Twitter Says GIFs Violate Copyrights, Takes Down SB Nation And Deadspin

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews (13) celebrates his touchdown catch during the first half of NFL Super Bowl XLIX . CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MATT YORK
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews (13) celebrates his touchdown catch during the first half of NFL Super Bowl XLIX . CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MATT YORK

Twitter temporarily shut down two sports news sites, Gawker’s Deadspin and Vox Media’s SB Nation, on Sunday for respectively sharing GIFs and highlights from professional and college football games for copyright violations.

The NFL, which saw $7.3 billion in mostly TV revenue last year, sent Deadspin nearly 20 takedown notices invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects intellectual property and prohibits repurposing copyrighted material without a license to do so. SB Nation received eight notices from XOS Digital, which represents the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and owns many broadcasting rights to college football franchises.

Advertisement

Deadspin’s account was reinstated — minus the offending GIFs — after parent company Gawker Media appealed Twitter’s deactivation, Recode reported.

The NFL said in a statement that its takedown notices were routine and only required Twitter to delink “pirated NFL game videos and highlights that violate the NFL’s copyrights” not suspend the accounts.

GIFs of sports highlights, movies, and TV shows is common and accepted internet behavior, but the NFL’s history of takedown requests and Twitter’s subsequent crackdown could signal a change that could have many users and fans up in arms.

The microblogging site previously shut down a bot account @ReplayLastGoal at FIFA’s request last year for circulating clips and GIFs from the World Cup, Recode reported.

Advertisement

Along with the NFL, UFC reportedly also filed DMCA takedown notices against Deadspin for circulating GIFs of copyrighted broadcast content.

Deadspin took the DMCA kerfuffle in stride, poking fun at the NFL in a few light-hearted tweets once Twitter reactivated its account.