JOSE, Calif. — Floyd Mayweather Jr. vanquished his
last opponent on Sept. 12, but as fans used
live-streaming apps such as Periscope to broadcast the
fight, they were also throwing punches at anti-piracy
rules in real time.
battle extends beyond the boxing ring, with viewers
whipping out their cellphones to film music concerts,
football games or cable TV shows. They’re sharing
experiences — often with high ticket prices — for
free worldwide and sending copyright holders, tech firms
and anti-piracy companies on a mad scramble to get the
broadcasts taken down midstream. In a race against time,
copyright holders are navigating complex legal and
technological waters fast.
value of real-time sports content diminishes rapidly
after that event has ended so it’s important that we
can track these infringing sites and take them down
within minutes. It’s a real-time cat-and-mouse
whack-a-mole," said Ben Bennett, senior vice
president of business development at Irdeto, a digital
security firm with anti-piracy operations in San Jose.
which owns Periscope, said in a statement the company is
committed to making the live video-streaming app
"an enjoyable place for everyone" and quickly
responds to takedown notices sent to the company.
Periscope broadcasts are up for minutes or at most 24
hours before expiring.
live video streaming has been around for more than a
decade, mobile apps such as Periscope — which has more
than 10 million users — and Meerkat rocketed to
popularity this year, making it easier to broadcast
copyrighted content, Bennett said. Social media giant
Facebook recently jumped into live streaming too,
launching the feature first for public figures,
journalists and celebrities.
challenges of real-time copyright enforcement came back
in the spotlight over the Sept. 12 weekend, when
Periscope responded to more than 140 takedown notices,
most about the fight between Mayweather and Andre Berto
— a pay-per-view boxing match that cost up to $74.95
to watch on Showtime but that thousands watched through
the app for free.
complaints came from firms acting on behalf of the NFL,
the United Kingdom’s Premier League, the U.S. Open
Tennis Championship and Taylor Swift, according to data
from Chilling Effects, which tracks online takedown
notices and was started by attorney Wendy Seltzer,
several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier
Ultimate Fighting Championship, which has kept a close
eye on people it believes are illegally streaming its
pay-per-view mixed martial arts matches, has sent more
than 650 takedown notices to Periscope, according to
data from Chilling Effects.
unauthorized distribution of UFC content hurts our
ability to decide how we connect UFC athletes to their
fans and how we present our athletes’ performances.
The vast majority of the piracy we are concerned with
focuses on profit-generating enterprises who are selling
a product they are not entitled to and, in doing so,
delivering a substandard version of the UFC experience
we strive to present. There is a clear economic impact
to losing control of how our content and message are
delivered," Dylan Budd, UFC’s vice president and
associate general counsel, said in a statement.
2014, UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, settled for an
undisclosed amount a $32 million lawsuit it filed
against a New York man who was accused of uploading 200
hours of UFC content to popular file-sharing websites
such as Pirate Bay. The company has also gone after
websites that stream UFC pay-per-view events, suing
former live-streaming site Justin.tv in 2011 while
forcing other sites to shut down and hand over records
of users who watched pirated matches.
NFL and Showtime declined to comment about Periscope.
to skim past the fine print on a ticket stub or rules
for using an app, people on the live streaming sites
might not realize they’re violating copyright law when
they stream live events. Some live streams over the
Sept. 12 weekend only attracted a few dozen viewers
before being taken down, while others — including a
Periscope broadcast of the Mayweather-Berto match titled
"The Fight for Free" — attracted more than
1,000 viewers in minutes. Periscope users took to
Twitter to gripe about their accounts getting suspended
because they didn’t know it was illegal to broadcast a
fight, while others thought it was #petty.
so much out there it’s impossible for the content
owners to police everything, and the result is people
think it’s OK. We’re not taught in school about
copyright law," said Jesse Morris, a music lawyer
at Morris Music Law near Los Angeles.
law is evolving. There are also cases in which using
copyrighted work is "fair use," a legal
concept that allows people to legally reproduce the
materials under certain circumstances in news reporting,
teaching, commentary or research.
Sept. 14, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco ruled in Lenz vs. Universal that copyright
owners must consider fair use before demanding that
firms such as YouTube pull down videos and other
copyrighted materials. Pennsylvania resident Stephanie
Lenz sued Universal Music in 2007 after the company
asked her to take down a YouTube video of her son
dancing to Prince’s song "Let’s Go Crazy,"
which the mom argued was fair use.
you were to apply that to the content of live events,
then a rights holder that wants to send takedown notices
is going to have to consider factors such as if the
stream is going to be used for news reporting, how much
of the event is going to be streamed, who’s likely to
be watching it and if it’s likely to substitute for an
actual purchase," said Mitch Stoltz, a senior staff
attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
firms say live video streaming still makes up a small
part of piracy that occurs globally, and so far, isn’t
as big of a threat compared to other forms that allow
criminals to rake in illegal dollars. That includes
attracting ad money from posting a video on piracy
sites, installing malware through links or selling fake
it’s the technology’s potential that has got some
worried about what the future holds.
will figure out a way to monetize live streaming and
video that they don’t have the right to
broadcast," said Adam Benson, deputy executive
director of the nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance.
"Once they do, it’s almost impossible for the
consumer to discern and tell the difference between
somebody who’s not making money and somebody who
Copyright Takedown Notices At A Glance
holders can report possible infringement by filing a
report to Twitter-owned Periscope online. If the company
decides to remove or disable access to the material, it
will notify the user after taking down the material,
provide them with the complaint and instructions on how
to file a counter-notice. A copy of the complaint is
then forwarded to Chilling Effects, which tracks
takedown notices. Periscope, which launched in March,
has responded to more than 1,500 takedown notices so
far, according to data as of Friday from Chilling
Effects. The Ultimate Fighting Championship sent more
than 650 notices to the live-streaming app.
for the Mayweather fight, football games, Taylor Swift’s
1989 concerts and United Kingdom’s Premier League were
some of the other live events that copyright holders
have asked Periscope to take down.