The soccer World Cup was a huge success for Twitter and its video offshoot Vine, but Premier League chiefs in the UK are promising a crackdown on users who attempt to share goals and highlights on social media. Broadcasting rights to the competition currently command billions of dollars but those figures will drop if fans can get their sporting fix for free on the Web.
“You can understand that fans see something, they can capture it, they can share it, but ultimately it is against the law,” Premier League director of communications Dan Johnson told the BBC ahead of the new season, which kicks off this weekend. “It’s a breach of copyright and we would discourage fans from doing it. We’re developing technologies like GIF crawlers, Vine crawlers, working with Twitter to look to curtail this kind of activity.”
“I know it sounds as if we’re killjoys but we have to protect our intellectual property,” added Johnson. In the most recent television deal brokered by the top tier of England’s soccer competition, Sky Sports and BT Sport paid a total of £3 billion (around $5 billion) for exclusive rights to broadcast live Premier League action in the UK. Online rights are owned by the Sun and Times newspapers, with clips of goals uploaded for subscribers less than two minutes after they’re scored.
“It’s important to underline that it’s illegal to do this,” said the Sun’s Dean Scoggins. “We’ve obviously signed a very big deal with the Premier League to be a rights holder and to show it, we’ve got legal teams talking with them about what we can do.”
Whether or not Twitter and the rights holders will be able to police this kind of activity remains to be seen. The BBC spoke to one prolific uploader who regularly posts goals on his Vine account: “If you just search on Twitter, if Gareth Bale scores and you just search within seconds of the goals going in there’ll be four, five up,” he said. “If I’m not doing it someone else is.”
[Header image: Premier League]
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