The last time the World Chess Championship was held in the U.S., O.J. Simpson was just a month away from being acquitted of murder. Twenty-one years later, the 2016 World Chess Championship, currently underway in New York, has gotten off to a rocky start. According to Reuters, on October 31st, organizers of the World Chess Championship sued a group of website operators who have a business of broadcasting news of chess moves at the World Chess Championship. This year, the organizers hope to protect their exclusive rights to news regarding the moves of world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia. As the event draws millions of online viewers, the claim is that the group of website operators, “expend no time, effort, or money of their own in organizing, producing, or hosting the chess events… and instead reap economic benefit from free-riding on the work and effort of World Chess.”
One of the website operators, Chessgames Services LLC, argues that news of the chess moves become open to the public once the plays are made and thus there is no pirating involved. Though Chessgames would respect an injunction, owner Daniel Freeman states that his company will continue to broadcast the moves until a court demands that they stop. It seems probable that Chessgames and the other two website operators will continue broadcasting unless the New York court issues a quick ruling before the end of the title contest on November 30th.
Nick Aquart is a Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2019).