Marseille the latest club to fall foul of sport’s struggle with copyright on social media

This week, a rare thing happened in the digital sporting world: a football club’s Twitter account was suspended.

Indeed, Olympique de Marseille’s Twitter account was closed for hours by the social platform itself. The reason? The French club infringed copyright in some previous tweets dating back to 2014. Robots, rolled out on the platform by the authority which owns Ligue 1’s copyright, have alerted Twitter about club’s practises, notably the use of images from a game on matchday.

As indicated in its Rules, Twitter is engaged to respond to any notification concerning a breach of copyright as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Olympique de Marseille’s Twitter account has finally been activated again some hours atfer the closure. The club even announced it in a pretty fun tweet using a GIF:

We are back in your TL

This case shows us how copyright can be dangerous for a sports team on social media with platforms and leagues both vigilant.

The NFL’s content ban launched in 2016, which prohibited teams to record video inside the stadium during a game and post it on social media, or to use any live -streaming platforms, was a step towards the league trying to maintain control of omnipresent and immediate content generated within stadiums and distributed online. That rule has since been relaxed.

At the same time, we seeing other leagues relaxing restrictions around content on social media, too. Last year, the new owners of Formula One, Liberty Media, changed the social media rules of the auto racing with the end of previous social restrictions. Now, teams and drivers are encouraged to share on raceday on social media their preparations and last-minute training giving fans a look behind-the-scenes of the event.

In 2016, Twitter signed a deal with one of Premier League broadcasters, Sky Sports, to show on the social media PL highlights and goals from all games broadcast by Sky near-live in the UK and Ireland. In this case, all partners can be satisfied with Twitter providing new content, Sky promoting its service to users and Premier League being more visible – no longer seeing its product go viral in the form of grainy, shaky gifs recorded from somebody’s TV.

So how a league can satisfy its fans community on social media with exclusive and (near) real-time content from the action whilst also respecting copyright and social platform rules? Is it by using social media as broadcaster, like Facebook with the MLS? More partnerships between leagues and platforms, like Ligue 1 and YouTube with highlights available on the video platform once all games of the matchweek are played?

It’s an interesting topic that all actors are certainly thinking about nowadays.

About author

Adrien Danjou
Adrien Danjou 140 posts

Adrien is a Digital Marketing Manager in France and a Digital Sport lover. Follow him on Twitter: @Adrien_DH

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