There's a line of thought that appears sometimes in copyright debates that simply leaves me completely... flabbergasted. It's the idea that you have to go after and stop infringement because it's infringement, period. Even if you point out that stopping the infringement is costly and probably counterproductive, there's this belief that "infringement must be stopped at all costs." I've even had explanations where people insist that even if stopping
a market, it still must be stopped "because it's piracy." People who fear that infringement hurts markets -- I can understand, even if the evidence doesn't always support it. But people who insist that it must be stopped, no matter what the cost, are simply people I cannot understand at all.
And yet that seems to be happening with the English Premier League. No doubt, the Premier League
has something of a history of ridiculous overreaction to intellectual property issues, including suing YouTube
because people had uploaded clips of games. This was a few years after threatening
to sue the fans themselves.
The latest is that the Premiere League has warned fans that it's going to shut down any attempts at sharing Vines or animated gifs of goals
. The reasoning seems to be purely about "it's the law!"
In an interview with Newsbeat, Dan Johnson, director of communications at the Premier League, said: "You can understand that fans see something, they can capture it, they can share it, but ultimately it is against the law."
"It's a breach of copyright and we would discourage fans from doing it, we're developing technologies like gif crawlers, Vine crawlers, working with Twitter to look to curtail this kind of activity."
As for the fact that this might piss off fans? The Premier League doesn't care. At all.
He added: "I know it sounds as if we're killjoys but we have to protect our intellectual property."
Actually, no, you don't "have to protect" your intellectual property. In fact, if it's stupid to do so -- pissing off fans and angering the very people who pay the bills, it seems like a bad idea. But the Premier League doesn't seem to care about that at all. It's just taking the "we must protect our IP" view of it all. Because.
Of course, there's a strong argument that, here in the US, the use of such things would be clearly fair use. Unfortunately, however, the UK doesn't have fair use, and the entertainment industry has fought hard
against allowing it, saying it would harm
So, the end result is the Premier League "protects" its intellectual property, pisses off fans, and basically misses out on pretty much any chance for remaining fans to bring other non-fans to the sport. It doesn't make any sense, but, again, it seems to come from a mindset that just is incomprehensible to me.