By Shay Joseph,
Sports Business Writer
On Monday, the Twitter account of sports sites Deadspin and SBNation were temporarily unavailable. Copyright complaints from the NFL, UFC, SEC and Big 12 conference forced Twitter to temporarily suspend the accounts and rid of all tweets that were deemed unsuitable for use.
Most fans are used to seeing GIFs from several different sporting events and highlights on the Twitter account of Deadspin and SBNation. However, the NFL decided to send 18 take down notices to Deadspin which centered around 16 tweets because they were told that they were infringing upon the copyrights of the league. In addition, the NFL had contacted Twitter asking for the immediate removal of all the tweets in question. The NFL did state that they did not request the account to be suspended. It was also reported that the UFC sent a takedown notice for a clip including Ronda Rousey.
SBNation GIFs account was suspended before Deadspin for including college football highlights. They received eight take down notices by XOS digital who has broadcasting rights to various college football conferences.
This has brought the issue of fair game to the forefront. Publishers are trying to attract a following by using highlights of the best plays and funny videos but many sports organizations want to retain control over that type of media content. For instance, the NFL just signed a two-year deal back in August with Twitter to bring sanctioned clips to the site.
There have been some who have voiced negative opinions towards the NFL and other organizations for not allowing video highlights and other content to be used. Although, the NFL is trying to expand its business they may also be hurting it. Some already believe the league has become full of themselves and egotistical. Their image is being further hurt by the way they choose to conduct business. Rather than allowing publishers to use their content which helps generate more views, they are being hit with legal notices.
Deadspin and SBNation were able to eventually reactivate their accounts after appealing the suspension. Deadspin stands by their postings and do not accept or believe any wrongdoing occurred on their behalf. They even went as far as to question why Twitter would delete some of their posts.
While these organizations have a right to protect their intellectual property, sites like Deadspin and SBNation may get a pass with using video content for journalistic purposes. The “fair use” clause in copyright law allows content to be used freely and without permission from the rights holder for this particular reason.
In the end, the NFL and Twitter came out of the situation being viewed in a more negative light while Deadspin and SBNation may have very well ended up gaining more supporters.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 20th print edition.
Contact Shay at