Whether or not you follow the NFL, it’s always worth noting when the 800-pound gorilla of the sports world starts beating its chest.
That’s what happened on Monday when Twitter accounts associated with Deadspin and SBNation were suspended as a result of take-down requests from the league. The accounts were cited for posting Vines and gifs of NFL highlights.
Fans love ’em, but for a league that’s looking to assert control over its content, those posts are tantamount to theft.
“The NFL sent routine notices as part of its copyright enforcement program requesting that Twitter disable links to more than a dozen pirated NFL game videos and highlights that violate the NFL’s copyrights,” the league said in a statement.
Although a league spokesman said the NFL “did not request that any account be suspended,” it's not hard to understand Twitter's decision. The social media giant partnered with the league ahead of this season to push highlights and game data to fans, a deal that led to a nine percent hike in Twitter’s stock valuation. Given what’s at stake, it makes sense to keep their partner happy.
The @Deadspin account was reinstated later in the day though links to highlights were stripped, leading to an error message that read: “Tweet withheld: This Tweet from @Deadspin has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.”
The @SBNationGIF account remained suspended as of Tuesday morning. The New York Times reported that it was also the target of take-down requests filed by the SEC and Big 12 for the posting of college football highlights.
These leagues’ aggressive posture begs an obvious question: Is hockey next?
The good news for fans of accounts like @MyRegularFace and countless others who are sharing the game’s top moments: probably not.
“We’re constantly reviewing our rules and procedures,” NHL director of communications Nirva Milord told SI.com. “To the extent that they need to be adjusted, they will be, if we determine that that’s appropriate.”
If that sounds like carefully crafted Bettman-speak, that’s because it is. The commissioner said the same thing back in August when asked about the future of fan-created highlight content in the wake of the league’s deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media.
Ideally, that response would have been more along the lines of “Our fans are the most passionate and technologically savvy in the world, and we understand their desire to use that technology to share their passion and expose others to the skill of our players. We appreciate all they do to promote the game of hockey.”
Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. But what we got was the legal equivalent of a shrug, essentially stating that the status quo prevails for now but the league reserves the right to change its position at any time ... presumably when it figures out how to monetize the presentation of these social media snippets—possibly through a partnership agreement similar to the one the NFL enjoys with Twitter.
For today then, your game-night timeline will still feature Vines and gifs of the NHL’s must-see moments. But as Monday’s action by the NFL suggests, there’s no telling what tomorrow holds.
The Numbers Game
• Steven Stamkos is now the 55th active NHL player to score 500 career points, but he hit that milestone faster than only four of them: Sidney Crosby (369), Alex Ovechkin (373), Evgeni Malkin (413) and Jaromir Jagr (419).
• The Islanders’ first win in their new home at Barclays Center on Monday came exactly 43 years to the day they won their first game at Nassau Coliseum. On Oct. 12, 1972, Germain Gagnon’s goal with 1:09 left in regulation gave the Isles a 3–2 victory over the L.A. Kings in the beloved old barn.
• At 18 years 349 days rookie Jack Eichel has become the first Sabre to score a game-winning goal before his 19th birthday since Wayne Primeau (18 years 333 days) did it against the Devils on May 3, 1995.
• Could a popular new NHL rule actually lead to more injuries? Not sure I agree this will happen, but this discussion could lead to an adjustment of the policy.
• Zdeno Chara returned to the Bruins' lineup as trade rumors involving Boston’s captain began to bubble.
• The Islanders think they can turn one frustrating element of Barclays Center into a home ice advantage. O.K. Dig a little further down into the article and you’ll find a Thomas Greiss diss of his former team, as well.