Periscope, A Threat to Market Exclusivity and Copyrights?

Periscope is a cell phone application that allow users, to stream live events. That is, when an event is occurring, the user simply activates the app and transmits the event via the cell phone.  Periscope is not intended to record for future use; rather, it is intended to broadcast live as an event is happening.

Recently, concerns were raised regarding the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, which was a pay per view event. Many Periscope users, who purchased the fight for viewing, streamed the event via the Periscope app, thereby allowing everyone using the app to see the fight for free.  Dick Costolo, Twitter’s founder, declared the real winner of the fight to be Periscope. Periscope, a Twitter owned company, issued a statement that they would abide by any properly issued “take down requests.” However, because the event is being streamed live, by the time any request is made, it would likely be too late. HBO has encountered similar problems with Periscope users streaming its popular show, Game of Thrones.  Although HBO filed such notices alleging copyright infringements with regard to the unauthorized live streaming of Game of Thrones, likely recognizing the inherent problem in effectively policing live streaming infringements, an HBO spokesman stated “[i]n general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications.”

This development has caused other exclusive events to raise their eyebrows.  For instance, the Cannes Film Festival weighed in with concerns as they offer world premieres of films that are unavailable to film-goers until much later. Although streaming on Periscope, and other similar live streaming apps such as Meerkat, does not provide the best viewing quality of the event, the ability to disrupt the exclusivity of the events remains a concern.  Indeed, Twitter’s commitment to fighting piracy has been questioned in light of Dick Costolo’s declaration that the real winner of the fight was Periscope.  A comment such as this fails to instill confidence that the company is truly committed to preventing copyright infringement.  Indeed, the current lack of any preventative measures by the app developers against copyright infringement seems to support the view that the policing of infringement will rest solely on the copyright owner.

Anna Vradenburgh is a well-respected, business-minded expert in intellectual property issues.  As a patent attorney licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Anna assists clients in patent and trademark prosecution, and represents clients in trademark opposition matters, domain name dispute matters, and patent and trademark litigation.  Anna can also assist your company in all manner of intellectual property protection.  For more information, visit her website, or contact Anna at (818) 946-2300, or email her at  This article is for educational purposes only and nothing in this article is intended to be, nor should be considered legal advice.

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