Meerkat and Periscope are two apps that have brought live streaming into the spotlight, and some experts worry that these apps may be a breeding ground for copyright infringement. It may be as simple as someone trying to livestream a TV show or a public performance, but without the proper licenses, these users may be breaking copyright laws. Fair use laws probably will not offer these companies any defense, but constant monitoring should help them avoid potential legal problems.
Meerkat and Periscope are protected by the Digital Millennial Copyright Act’s “safe harbor provisions.” As long as the services do not have any “constructive” knowledge of the infringement and they respond quickly to owners’ takedown requests, both of these live streaming services should be legally safe.
The problem is that copyright-infringing material will inevitably still make it to the apps, especially in shorter streams. By the time an owner files a takedown request, it’s likely that the stream will already be over. Periscope and YouNow archive streams for up to 72 hours, so they might still be able to at least take down some of the archived video.
These copyright issues could affect all sorts of live streaming events. Streaming television shows, concerts, public performances, football games and more could prove to be difficult with existing deals over television broadcast rights or record labels’ performance rights. Also, other participants in these events may be live streamed without their knowledge of consent, notes Billboard. This is the same type of privacy issue that has people worried about Google Glass.
The fair use law won’t work as a legal defense because there is no added value, aesthetic, or meaning. Fair use laws also ensure that the content is not causing any market harm. Meerkat Community Director Ryan Cooley said the company is ready to take on the challenge of policing the service.
“Meerkat’s value is in the conversation it creates, not in the content itself,” he said. “We’re a young company, so we fully acknowledge that we aren’t prepared for every single type of use case, but we’re flexible and we’re ready to take it on.”
Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat Invade Theaters, But Movie Biz Not Too Worried, Variety, 4/4/15