Controversy Arises Over Periscope Streaming of Boxing Match

Saturday’s championship bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is generating controversy regarding the number of people who watched the fight for free using Twitter’s new video streaming app, Periscope. The app allows users to stream video recordings in real time and post to Twitter. Many on social media reported watching the fight via Periscope as opposed to paying the $100 pay-per-view fee to HBO and Showtime, which has since sparked a discussion about piracy.

Periscope_Twitter_AppAccording to Bloomberg, HBO and Showtime executives reached out to Periscope to request the company take down its live streams of the fight as it was happening. Saturday’s event is now the second time that HBO has had to reach out to Periscope with such a request.

“HBO previously asked the service to take down streams of the season premiere of its hit show ‘Game of Thrones’ when it realized people had used Periscope to stream it for free,” Bloomberg reports.

Variety explains that adding to the controversy is the fact that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo reportedly posted a celebratory tweet hailing Periscope’s so-called victory over the weekend. “And the winner is…@periscopeco,” Costolo tweeted following the fight. 

Some question whether Costolo’s actions will eventually come with serious implications for Twitter, especially in its relationship with the Hollywood media companies that could be negatively impacted by streaming technologies such as Periscope.

“Just as piracy via YouTube and Google’s search has impacted how Google and media conglomerates have dealt with each other over the years, Twitter is now heading in the same direction,” notes Variety.

Periscope will most likely have to find a better way of dealing with piracy as it happens in real time on its platform. “Periscope may require something like Google’s Content ID system, technology capable of identifying forbidden streams in an instant, and maybe even converting them to transactional opportunities for legal alternatives to the content in question,” Variety suggests.

“A Periscope spokesman said in a statement Monday that it was not the intention for the app to engage in illegal activity,” reports The New York Times. “The company, the statement said, follows the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it pledged to respect intellectual property rights and work ‘to ensure there are robust tools in place to respond expeditiously’ to violations. On Saturday, the company said that it was notified of 66 Periscope streams of the fight from its rights holders and that it took action against 30 of them. The other live feeds ended before any action could be taken.”