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Intellectual property protection for playbooks?

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating, paywall protected article this morning on how public universities that have top ranked football teams responded to open records requests for game plans. 

In a nutshell: none complied with the request. Some said that the state laws protecting trade secrets provided an exemption to the usual disclosure requirements. Others rationales included the coaches’ privacy, significant governmental interest, and protection of the team’s performance.

If you are interested in thinking more this topic, it is worth reading this article from the Sporting News about “Kirby’s Law,” which stated that “athletic departments of Georgia’s public universities¬†will now have 90 days to respond to open records requests instead of the three they had been allowed.” For you primary source enthusiasts, please enjoy reading Senate Bill 323

The WSJ article provides a counter argument to the universities’ view that protecting the game plans is the most strategic response to these requests by explaining that coaches frequently share playbooks. The article refers to the website Smart Football, which, among other things, has analyzed some playbooks.¬†

Anyway, if you can find today’s WSJ, I hope you enjoy the article. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the WSJ were to sue the schools that denied their requests.

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