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MLB asks Apple to pull team-themed baseball podcasts from iTunes

updated 04:29 pm EDT, Wed May 7, 2014

League likely trying to control usage of team names

Major League Baseball has asked Apple to pull a number of team-based podcasts from iTunes, reports say. These include shows like Pirates Prospects, Mets Musings, It's About the Yankees Stupid, and two Twins podcasts, Talk to Contact and Gleeman and the Geek. The latter, significantly, is hosted by NBC Sports' Aaron Gleeman.

Many of the affected podcasts have been around for years, making their removal from iTunes unexpected. In an official letter sent to Apple, the MLB suggests that Apple overreacted to trademark complaints.

"As we have done in the past, yesterday we notified Apple (see below) about certain podcasts on the iTunes Store whose titles and/or thumbnails include infringing uses of trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain Clubs," the letter reads. "And, as we have done in the past, we asked Apple to have these trademarks removed from the podcast titles and thumbnails. Although we did not ask for or seek to have any podcast removed from the Store, it has come to our attention that Apple removed them. Given our many years of experience in notifying Apple about trademark issues on the Store, we trust that removing the podcasts was an oversight, and ask that you please look into this matter as soon as possible."

The MLB has taken a strict approach to podcasts in the past. In 2010 it sent a cease-and-desist letter to a show called CubsCast, forcing it off the air.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Hopefully this will get taken to court. Apparently the MLB doesn't understand either free speech or the exceptions to copyright for use in educational, satirical and commentary uses.

  1. PRoth

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-21-08

    Okay, maybe it's me, but if I read that quote right, MLB asked Apple to have the podcast publishers remove the trademark infringing references from the app icons or titles, and not the actual podcasts themselves. And they're saying that they believe the removal of the actual podcasts is an oversight on Apple's part. So MLB is not the bad guy here, other than maintaining a strict policy over trademarks, which is understandable and common. Am I right?

  1. vinnieA2

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-28-05

    @PRoth If they are violating copyright, Apple was wise to pull them. Changing the name should not take long, and why would Apple want to risk being sued if the podcast creators didn't change the names fast enough for the MLB?

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    PRoth, vinnieA2: It's difficult to do a podcast about, let's say the Yankees, and not use their logo as part of the podcast logo. Its even more difficult to do a podcast about them without saying the name of the team. If the podcast was JUST using their logo as their logo, okay I can certainly see the concern -- but as I mentioned earlier, using copyrighted material is covered under "fair use" if you are commenting on or educationally talking about the Yankees, so I think both Apple and MLB have probably overreached here.

  1. nouser

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-29-12

    I don't expect Apple to police a blogger's podcasts for copyright material. IMO, this is, or should be, an issue between the podcast author and the MLB. By law, I believe Apple has to remove the offending material if they get a request from a copyright owner. It is not Apple's responsibility to edit out copyrighted material from the podcasts. They remove the offending podcast and let the podcast authors edit and repost their podcasts if they choose to do so, or use the legal system to prove that the image used is covered under "fair use".

    I believe the MLB was being dishonest when they stated they think the podcasts removal was an oversight.

  1. sammaffei

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 09-04-04

    I work for a news company and we don't direct uses any sports teams logos or names.

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