Last week, ChessBase was apparently ‘forced to cease Internet broadcasting of the Topalov-Kamsky match’. As we noted
in our report on the first match game, live broadcasting of the chess
moves in this match without permission was prohibited by the Bulgarian
Chess Federation (although they didn’t seem to have a problem with
Chessdom’s, Crestbook’s, ICC’s and TWIC’s live coverage). This has led
to heated discussions on this site. The key question here is: can you copyright a chess move at all?
Plus this is transmission over the internet, so which law applies? As I understand U.S. law, you can put chess moves into a book and the players have no rights to residual income from that book. Which is how it should be. Transferring income to chess players is not a goal per se. Useful chess books usually contain many games, and requiring rights permission would make the volume harder to assemble.
Maybe grandmasters would play more games, or play better games, if they could charge for rights of reproduction. When it comes to playing more games, I suspect there is already an ample supply of games and easy reproduction will do more to increase real consumption than spurring more contests over the board. If anything is underproduced, it is the salience of the games which have been played (take a game between two 2550 players and call it "Clash of the Titans" and produce more excitement; most chess players won't know the difference between that and a game between the two best players at 2770.)
And better chess? I believe the effort elasticity is low with respect to residual rights income from reporting of the games.
Comparable debates have been held over residual rights to reporting real time stock prices and NBA scores.