UPDATE 07/07/2023 6:50pm BST: PandaScore has responded with a statement about the case and the article has been updated to include the statement and additional details provided.
A regional court in Berlin, Germany has ruled in favour of esports data company Bayes Esports in a case against another data company, PandaScore, according to a filing reviewed by Esports Insider.
The court ruling said that esports data cannot be advertised as ‘live’ data if it scrapes public streams, ruling that esports data is only ‘live’ if it comes directly from the tournament organiser in real time.
The ruling is the first of its kind in the world of esports data, though the ruling specifically related to advertising and not how data is collected. The decision is a result of PandaScore’s appeal on a previous decision. PandaScore can appeal again, but should the court decide in favour of Bayes, that decision will be the final one.
According to the ruling, PandaScore had advertised its data offerings as ‘live’ and ‘real-time’ even though its data was actually obtained by scraping it from public stream broadcasts — which are usually delayed from the actual live match. The delays vary in length depending on the match and organiser, but matches are usually delayed at least half a minute.
There are two main ways in-game data is collected in esports. ‘Scraping’ data from publicly available streams, such as Twitch or YouTube streams, involves third parties collecting data from the broadcast without explicit consent.
The fastest and most accurate way is to get the data directly from the source by partnering with game developers to get direct access to live feeds, for example partnering with Riot Games to get access to direct data feeds for League of Legends.
PandaScore has received a €1660 fine and has been ordered to pay legal fees. The company confirmed with Esports Insider that it would appeal.
Bayes Esports called the decision a “milestone in the esports industry” because it is the first time that a court has differentiated how esports data offerings of different quality and origin can be marketed.
However, PandaScore told Esports Insider in a statement that this was a ‘minor ruling’ with very specific conditions that only applies locally in Germany. PandaScore also added that the ruling does not relate to how data is collected, only advertised.
A Bayes Esports spokesperson issued the following statement to Esports Insider: “While this ruling was the first step in terms of how scraped match data offerings are promoted, a second legal procedure may target the way that this data is being collected under the umbrella of ‘AI supported data collection’, namely by copying public feeds of Youtube and Twitch and commercialising them by extracting data without the right holders’ permission.
The statement continued: “In traditional product markets, there is no question that a brand owner’s efforts must not be exploited by free-riders for their own commercial purposes, i. e. without consent and official license. The digital content industry has also been successfully defending itself against the infringement of its IP for years and has been fighting piracy under civil and criminal law.
“And yet a third step in this context may look at how third party odds feeds are scraped and sold as original. A grey market practice that unfortunately is all too common in the betting industry and that bears significant risks for both the betting operator as well as bettor.”
Approached for comment, a PandaScore spokesperson shared the following statement with Esports Insider: “Bayes initially issued PandaScore with a cease and desist in 2021 regarding the usage of the terms “live” and “real-time” on our website, claiming it amounted to false advertising.
“In this recent ruling, the judge drastically narrowed down the scope of the injunction, which now applies only to using those terms on our website, alongside certain competitions , related only to our stats product which was not addressed to betting operators or customers, and only in Germany.
“In reality, this is a minor ruling about advertising terminology under very specific conditions, involving only a €1660 fine, and we still have the opportunity to appeal the decision which we will. The website in question was rewritten two years ago.
“At no point in this judgement does it relate to how Pandascore acquires data for use in its odds services. The reality is that this is small local judgement around a very specific issue which is now out of date. Pandascore uses a number of sources, including working with other official data suppliers to create its odds and data products. We value performance, competitive integrity but also wide access to esports data above all things.”