Why is it okay for Rivals/Scout to steal info from Mgoblog!?

Submitted by 2001 on January 19th, 2010 at 10:11 PM

I subscribe to Rivals, not Scout (so I can't speak to that...but I'd imagine it's a somewhat similar situation), and I have noticed that Rivals seems to be stealing a lot of its stories from Brian's front page here at mgoblog.

The most obvious instance of this was during the AD search. I remember reading Brian's list of potential candidates, and then about a day later, reading the exact same list over on Rivals pay-site. The exact same candidates. Maybe even in the same order. And with pretty much the exact same outlook/summary on each. If it would have been the other way around...I'm sure that Brian would have heard about it.

There have been a lot of other wishy-washy examples (i.e., not enough evidence to convict), but it seems like there have been a lot of verrry similar stories popping up over there a day or two after they're posted here. Especially recently. Maybe some of you can fill me in on some more concrete examples.

It seems like mgoblog sort of gets the screw because it's a free site. I'm no intellectual property attorney, but I'm sure some of you are. This isn't fair, is it!? I realize that there's always going to be a bit of back and forth action between competing websites in the recruiting game...but it seems like the big boys over at Rivals have very little hesitation to flat out re-word and re-post Brian's hard work.



Fresh Meat

January 19th, 2010 at 10:15 PM ^

I also am not an IP attorney, but I did stay at a holiday inn express last night. Because of this, I am qualified to say they can't steal Brian's work if there is proof of it.


January 20th, 2010 at 12:35 AM ^

This basically falls squarely into the copyright domain. And, one of the first things taught in copyright law is that the author retains rights in his expressions of an idea, though not in the idea itself. Really, that's copyright in a nutshell.

So let's apply that to the present situation. Brian's list of potential AD candidates is not protectable intellectual property. The flip side, though, is that Scout and Rival's "breaking news" of which kid committed to what school is not protectable intellectual property, either. If you have one of their accounts, copyright law cannot stop you from talking about who committed to where - the only thing you can't do is copy and paste (substantial portions) of someone else's work.

This get's a little bit more complicated by the fact that you have a subscription to Scout/Rivals, and that subscription has a contract. And of course that contract has fine print. I haven't seen it, but I can say with relative certainty that, as part of the contract, you have agreed not to pass their info along.

So, to the extent that someone posts Scout/Rival's info, the only issue is between Scout/Rivals and the subscriber who has breached their contract. (And they might try to stretch it and say that this blog has enabled/abetted people in breaching that contract).

On top of that, there's ethics - though, as most football fans know, ethics is kind of a lose term. The internet is kind of a wild wild west, still, and frankly my sense of morality won't keep me awake at night if someone posts scout/rivals info, so long as it's not copy/pasted.


January 20th, 2010 at 8:22 AM ^

As far as it goes, though, wherein you say that the contract that comes with a Rivals/Scout account states that you won't pass their info along, that's actually debatable too, I think.

The contract probably says something to the effect of (paraphrasing) 'You can't go and post that "Rivals says so and so will commit".'

But, I'm fairly sure that a request for discussion, I.E. - "What do you guys think about Scout reporting X?", doesn't fall under the contract since one has no way of knowing what other people already know.

Is that correct?


January 20th, 2010 at 10:28 AM ^

Here it is:

The material on the Premium Ticket Service is for the private, non-commercial enjoyment of Subscribers only. Any other use is strictly prohibited. Rivals and its publishing partners spend a great deal of time and money to obtain the information appearing on its web sites. Subscribers agree that they will not copy, publish, or in any way make available publicly any news, pictures, interviews, features, or any other information from Rivals web sites, without express written permission from Rivals. Subscribers agree that, should they do so, Rivals reserves the right to cancel their subscription immediately without refund. Additionally, reuse of copyrighted information (pictures, interviews, features, videos, audio, etc.) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

So I think that your hypothetical statement might violate those terms. Good luck enforcing that, Rivals!


January 19th, 2010 at 10:16 PM ^

Because Brian is awesome and MGoBlog is the best college football website out there*. If you steal, steal from the best.

*At the very least it's the best team specific college football website. A good argument could be made for Doc. Saturday having the best college football site.


January 19th, 2010 at 10:17 PM ^

Plz don't charge to be able to read mgblog =(!!

about the post, that doesn't seem fair, but the insiders in rivals should complain with the site, they're paying to read stories they can read for free?


January 19th, 2010 at 10:23 PM ^

They shouldn't do it, certainly not without crediting us. Yet they do it all the time and accuse us of being plagiarists.

I think common sense is pretty obvious about who's in the wrong here. There's no way to stop them, and we'll live with it.


January 19th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

Even if it is "legal" you have to think it is unethical. Basically charging people for content that was created by someone else and for the entirely opposite reason of turning a buck.

If you want to do something about it stop paying Rivals.

I have never paid scout, rivals or espn for anything and I would like to think I am pretty knowledgeable on recruiting despite it. Mgoblog has some great regular posters, even if we don't always agree =), with their single motivation being fans of football and UM, you can't say that about many of the paysite staffs.

So the best thing you can do is stop paying Rivals, and try to repay Mgoblog for all their content by bringing your own insight and content to the message boards.


January 20th, 2010 at 12:13 AM ^

I am not an Irish fan but I could not agree more. The more I see of Rivals and Scout they are charging for what is almost always pilfered elsewhere - essentially they are charging for collecting and collating otherwise freely available information. If you want to pay for that fine but buyer beware.


January 20th, 2010 at 12:07 AM ^

I can't tell you how many times I played that game and failed.

And then fateful day, I set out to throw that fucking perfect game I so desperately (and I mean desperately) desired.

And I did.

It was glorious, absolutely glorious.

The roar of the crowd as the words "PERFECT GAME" shown across the scoreboard will be with me forever.

But then, I felt something tug at me. Something sad and cold.

What did my life mean now that my pursuit was over?

I stared at the computer screen for a good several minutes.

I felt the image begin to burn into my eyelids.

Just then, a thought popped into my head.

"Go look at porn."



January 19th, 2010 at 11:09 PM ^

I'm too lazy to go to Brian's FAQs to see what his policy is exactly, but I think he basically allows other sites to quote him freely in return for the same privilege. He occasionally takes quotes from behind the paywalls, so he can't really complain about them taking his stuff.

However, if it is as bad as you say, with them basically using the same info as Brian's article, without any attribution, it is plagiarism. It's way harder to prove with the internet, but still. It's a bad, unethical thing for Rivals to do.


January 19th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

I was going to steal me some inside information from GBW but didn't think my fellow mgoblogers would be interested in "let's make up really cool nicknames for our 2010 recruits."


January 20th, 2010 at 12:46 AM ^

I think Rivals is essential to getting accurate information about recruiting. It doesn't translate as well when people communicate it third hand on message boards. It turns into a game of telephone real quick, it always seems.

Frank Drebin

January 20th, 2010 at 8:10 AM ^

Funny, on this board, I often see people asking what is behind the paywall on Rivals/Scout. This is usually followed up by someone summarizing the content, which is then followed up by someone copying the entire article and pasting it into our forum for all to read. I don't think this is any different than the point the OP is trying to make. I am sure that the guys at Scout/Rivals have many of the same contacts and leaks about UM athletics as Brian, Tim and the MGOBlog guys. There is sure to be a lot of overlapping in content. If you have to read the same thing at other sites, it is no big deal as long as we all get our fix of UM football, bball and hockey. We all know where to get the premium content, and that is why we continue to come back to MGOBlog.


January 20th, 2010 at 10:55 AM ^

So I didn't read it all (and therefore may be duplicating (neg!)), but if

(1) You're a rivals member, call 'em out every time they lift from Mgoblog. Nothing like good ole' fashioned public shaming (and the direct implication to other members that what they pay for at Rivals, they could get for free with a twist of insanity and space bear over at Mgoblog).

(2) If you're a scout member... "ditto"


January 20th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

No one will probably read this but my take: I haven't seen anything that blatant, really. The list of AD possibilities was basically a list of people with M connections who are athletic directors. It doesn't take much deduction to replicate that.

Often times people will get information that is the same information that someone else has already posted from a new source. Everyone had versions of "It's probably Dave Brandon" that came after this site's post, but that was less a ripoff than independent confirmation. It happens.

I have noticed something of a response, though. Premium sites will just happen to put up articles about recruits Tom just interviewed. Beaver, showing his usual facility for the language, has called his information-containing (-ish) message board posts "TJBlogs" for a couple years now. And Rivals has moved towards more opinion and analysis. They even hired Chait, a guy who's had a few guest posts here.

I'm not worried. The site is useful for a lot of reasons that premium sites can't match. It's free. It will link anything anywhere as long as it's interesting. It collates different opinions instead of attempting to pass one off as the One True Take. No one at Scout or Rivals is going to write a "New Math". The Rivals attempt to replicate UFR is laughable. They aren't a threat to the growth of the site.

The things that piss me off are 1) Rivals taking a flamethrower to all links out (Scout does this sometimes but sometimes lets them stand) and 2) suggesting this site is a not reputable facebook e-blog whenever they get beat on a story. Beaver does this in his unbearable twee-speak every time, as if Tom hasn't established himself by now.

Whateva. I've got my model, they've got theirs. I like mine because nothing except mofos stealing t-shirt designs can piss me off.