Premier League set to clamp down on unofficial Vine videos of goals as they get tough on copyright laws

Goals can be seen on social media seconds after the ball hits the back of the net, but these short videos are breaking copyright laws as soon as they're uploaded

Jack de Menezes
Friday 15 August 2014 23:21 BST
Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Vincent Kompany celebrates with the trophy after his team won the Premiership title on May 11, 2014.
Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Vincent Kompany celebrates with the trophy after his team won the Premiership title on May 11, 2014.

The Premier League are set to clamp down on fans who post unofficial Vines on social media after the latest goals began to appear online throughout last season due to copyright infringement.

Posting Vines of goals and controversial incidents has become the latest online craze to bring users the latest action as soon as it happened. Thousands of Vines went global during the recent World Cup in Brazil, and with the Premier League set to kick-off tomorrow, it was expected that they would once again fill your newsfeed from 12.45pm, when Manchester United begin the season against Swansea City.

However, the Premier League plans to crack down on the short videos posted by fans as it is infringing copyright laws.

Speaking to the BBC, the Premier League’s director of communications Dan Johnson said: “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.”

Johnson added: “I know it sounds as if we're killjoys but we have to protect our intellectual property.”

The announcement comes following the latest TV broadcasting deal to be agreed by Sky Sports and BT Sport, which saw a staggering £3bn paid to the Premier League in order to screen live matches for three seasons.

On top of that, newspapers The Times and The Sun have agreed deals to show online goals and highlights, and the introduction of Vines means that people who have not subscribed to their paper can still see the action for free.

The development in TV detail has also helped Vines take off with viewers able to pause and record live TV, meaning they can rewind matches should something of interest happen, record it, and upload the footage to the internet for all to see.

The Sun aim to have every goal from the English top flight uploaded to their site within two minutes of the ball hitting the back of the net, with subscribers paying a fee of £7 a month to view the action. However, many are finding that Vines are beating the online coverage as they can be on the web in seconds, meaning the coverage provided is already out of date given that viewers will have already seen it by the time it’s uploaded.

Henna Riaz, IP lawyer and managing partner at royalty auditing business 360 Audit, explained why the Premier League is taking such measures.

“The Premier League is cracking down on the illegal use of the copyright because it undermines the lucrative commercial deals that it has entered into with various entities and media outlets," Riaz explained. "It is being forced to tackle the issue head on and in a very public manner to demonstrate to its commercial partners that the issue is being taken extremely seriously.

"I would imagine that the Premier League has had some stressful conversations with its commercial partners about the unauthorised use of this copyright. If the Premier League doesn't get control of the situation its commercial partners could be forced to renegotiate deals that are already on the table or may threaten to pull out all together.

“The Premier League is taking action to prevent any impact or long-term damage to revenue streams generated through licensing. Ultimately The Premier League is a copyright owner and, as a result, has the right to protect its commercial and intellectual property interests.

“I believe copyright owners face a severe challenge with the growing use of social media and the lack of regulation within it and are therefore often required to take an aggressive legal stance to protect their rights. It is absolutely imperative that the Premier League takes this action now before this issue escalates beyond its control and remit like we have seen in the music industry for example, which was quite naive about the impact the unauthorised use of copyrighted music through the Internet had on its revenue streams. It really hurt the labels and changed the state of the music industry as a whole.

“Heading up a company that helps copyright owners to protect their intellectual property and revenue streams generated from it, I understand the stance that the Premier League is taking and believe that they have no viable alternative if they are to maintain a sustainable licensing business.”

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