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Court rules in favour of PGA over scoring

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal Monday by a media company claiming it has a right to publish and sell real-time golf scores from PGA Tour tournaments that its reporters cover.

Without comment, the court let stand a lower ruling allowing the American professional golf tour to restrict media outlets from posting or selling the real-time scores to Web site publishers -- unless media outlets purchase a licensing agreement from the PGA Tour first.

The case involves Morris Communication Co., which began distributing scores its reporters obtained from the tournament's media center. The PGA Tour then imposed new restrictions in 1999 that barred media outlets from publishing the scores immediately; otherwise, their reporters wouldn't be granted access to tournaments.

Morris filed suit, arguing that the restrictions gave the PGA Tour an unfair business advantage as the exclusive publisher and seller of real-time golf scores.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the PGA Tour in dismissing Morris' antitrust claims. It ruled in March that the PGA Tour's real-time scoring system required a significant devotion of money, staffing and technology that justified the organization's insistence on selling or licensing the information to others.

Several media groups, including the Associated Press Sports Editors, the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, argued in support of Morris' appeal. They said the PGA Tour should not be given ownership rights to news information at public events.

The case is Morris Communication Co. v. PGA Tour, 04-266.

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