Social network Twitter has sent a firm message to sports fans: No matter how majestic a touchdown, don't share replays you don't own.
The social network suspended two accounts on Monday for sharing GIFs and clips belonging to the US National Football League (NFL), The New York Times reports.
The Gawker Media-owned account @Deadspin was suspended on Monday, and shortly thereafter reinstated, but Vox Media account @SBNationGIF is still suspended at the time of writing. Some video content posted by @Deadspin has been forcibly removed by Twitter.
The tussle shows the difficulties of adapting copyright rules to the fast-changing Internet. People may publish copyrighted content without permission in some cases because of an exception called fair use, but the decades-old policy was never designed with sites like Twitter in mind. Sports organisations, keen to preserve video licensing revenue, have come down particularly hard on users sharing clips on networks such as Twitter and Vine, with US sports TV network ESPN and international football body FIFA pursuing similar takedowns to the NFL.
The Deadspin account, which has 886,000 followers, sprang back to life with a snarky tweet picturing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell alongside the words, "Test... test..." Deadspin's tweets were still present when the account was reinstated, but had been stripped of the GIFs they were originally posted with. Gawker Media had received 18 takedown requests from Twitter about 16 tweets, the company's CEO John Cook told The New York Times.
An NFL spokesperson confirmed to the Times that it had complained to Twitter about "more than a dozen pirated NFL game videos and highlights", but did not request that any accounts be suspended.
Twitter has been working with the NFL throughout the latest American football season to disseminate video replays and other content for fans. The social network told Venturebeat that it doesn't comment on individual accounts. "We submit all actioned takedown notices to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, and these batches should be posted later tonight or tomorrow," it said.
Chilling Effects, a Harvard-based project that records all copyright infringement-related takedown requests regardless of whether they're successful, isn't yet showing records for the latest requests the NFL made to Twitter yesterday. However, it does show a series of requests that were made to Twitter-owned live-streaming service Periscope over the weekend, indicating that the NFL's copyright woes extend beyond the main Twitter service.
Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The NFL couldn't immediately be reached for comment.