Did you get up at a ridiculous hour on Sunday morning to watch the big boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao? If you did, you probably have a satellite television subscription, but some people managed to view the boxing fight for free.
Television networks fork out millions of dollar for the right to broadcast sporting events, but Twitter’s new app Periscope has waded into the murky waters of piracy. Periscope allows people to stream live video over Twitter of just about anything – including their own television sets.
US residents paid up to $100 for the privilege to watch the fight at home, but just by watching someone’s live stream, many potential viewers took to Periscope to get a free glimpse of what was billed as the “Fight of the Century”.
But it wasn’t just people pointing their smartphones at their television sets to give Twitter users a ringside seat, as one user actually had a ringside seat and broadcast through the app from inside the arena in Las Vegas.
This brings into question the legalities of Periscoping anything.
Over the weekend golf blogger Stephanie Wei lost her PGA Tour credentials after she Periscoped Masters winner Jordan Spieth’s practice round at the Match Play Championship.
Earlier this month network HBO sent take-down notifications to Periscope after it emerged that users were broadcasting the latest episode of Games of Thrones.
“In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications,” HBO said in a statement.
But is it illegal to broadcast sporting events or televisions shows over Periscope? The short answer is yes. And no. Well, possibly.
In Periscope’s Terms of Service it states that Twitter might monitor content – but washes its hands from anything that might be questionable.
“We may, but are not required to, monitor or control the Content posted via Periscope and we cannot take responsibility for such Content. Twitter, Inc. respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects users of Periscope Services to do the same. We will respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with applicable law and are properly provided to us.”
Naturally you run the risk of having your account deleted if you are caught broadcasting illegal content – repeatedly.
“We reserve the right to remove Content alleged to be infringing without prior notice and at our sole discretion. In appropriate circumstances, Periscope will also terminate a user’s account if the user is determined to be a repeat infringer.”
Whether Periscope will be taking a long hard look at how people make use of the service in the future is yet to be seen, but we are almost certain that networks will be filing a lot of take-down notices in the future.