Periscope vs Meerkat Round Two

Earlier this year two new live-streaming video apps, Meerkat and Periscope, were launched (See my last post for more).

Importance of copyright on the webThe apps allow users to react quickly, and sometimes without thought, to their surrounding environment, filming whatever is happening at the time and instantly uploading the footage onto social media sites, reaching hundreds, possibly thousands of followers. The repercussions of such actions is that some users may well be in breach of copyright laws.

In the past month concerns have been raised over rights to sport and film footage particularly, with sports broadcasters and Hollywood studios suing Periscope over users that film content direct from TV or at events using their smartphone.

Some professional sporting events in the US have taken steps to ban Meerkat and Periscope, which is understandable given that broadcasters pay a significant amount of money for the rights to show games or certain events. It was recently reported that HBO saw an estimated 10,000 people watch the Mayweather and Pacquiao fight through Periscope without paying. People that had paid for the pay-per-view event were streaming it straight from their TVs for others to watch for free. Whilst Twitter made every effort to remove the live-streams, it didn’t manage to remove them all.

The UK Premier League has taken matters into its own hands and has been working with third parties such as Net Result, Irdeto and ID Inquiries to remove persistent copyright offenders. In the past they’ve worked with Twitter, which coincidently owns Periscope, to remove any videos on Vine that show live footage from games.

It seems that both Meerkat and Periscope could learn a great deal from Google’s ‘You Tube’, which automatically scans for copyrighted content using Google’s content ID system. Any videos found in breach of copyright are automatically removed. Until then, I imagine that all sport broadcasting corporations will be watching Meerkat and Periscope closely, very closely indeed.

Sport and other rights-based live broadcasting maybe the arena where Meerkat and Periscope users are first challenged. In B2B content marketing similar issues of exclusivity and copyright will also arise and will need to be addressed. The financial cost of making a legal challenge to an unauthorised broadcast using these new social tools will be a significant consideration. Then there is the public relations fall-out – do you appear heavy handed, a bully or even just outdated chasing down culprits who may not be aware they are breaking the law?

For now there are no easy answers. Clearly, technology is developing quickly towards a permanently ‘live’ communication state. Perhaps one where people come to accept that at any point in time they maybe featuring simultaneously in multiple broadcast feeds without ever knowing. The same way in which CCTV is now all pervasive and generally accepted. Meanwhile it may be wise for companies to begin adding guidelines to their social media policies for staff to follow and to also discuss the topic with their internal and external marketing teams.

Amy McCandlish, Associate, Ainsworth Maguire Public Relations

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