You might want to think twice before you GIF, Instagram or Vine goal videos recorded from Premier League broadcasts — the organization says it plans to clamp down on copyright violators this year, according to the BBC’s Newsbeat. Premier League Director of Communications Dan Johnson told Newsbeat:
“You can understand that fans see something, they can capture it, they can share it, but ultimately it is against the law. 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.”
It’s unclear how the Premier League would actually stop masses of people from posting — and then re-posting — its content, but likely the violators the crawler finds will be asked to stop. If they don’t, then they may face a legal cease-and-desist letter — a practice one GIF-maker says other sports leagues have been known to do.
Those threats won’t likely stop GIF-makers, Instagram aficionados and Vine users from posting Premier League goals online, however. Justin Russo, aka @FlyByKnite, a Californian who shot to Internet popularity during the World Cup for his prolific GIF-ing of its goals, said he doesn’t really see what the big deal is.
“If I’m able to watch it, I’m able to GIF it,” Russo said, emphasizing that he makes no money from his hobby and that, instead, he’s simply a fan, particularly of Arsenal. “I guess it’s just weird. … To me it’s public information and it’s a public feed.”
Many point out that watching a single goal in GIF or Vine format does not take away from or substitute for watching the television broadcast of the games, the rights for which networks such as Sky TV and NBC Sports pay millions of dollars. These people don’t view GIFs as stealing content from the networks; they see it as promoting it. They say GIF makers and Vine loopers can ultimately enhance the networks’ ratings by piquing people’s interest in the Premier League by giving them viral, ready-to-share glimpses of what they’re missing.
“If they have a problem with that, I guess I’ll have to stop,” Russo said.
However, many others won’t. A Vine user named Nick told BBC’s Newsbeat, “At the end of the day, if I don’t do it someone else will.”