Popular animated GIF website Feint Zebra has stopped producing animated GIFs of goals because the site owner has received take down notices from the Premier League and UEFA, as well as Twitter removing many of its tweets due to DMCA takedown notices from the Premier League.
Sites that create animated gifs appear to be the next wave of attack from NetResult, the company that is responsible for policing the Internet in order to protect the Premier League’s copyrighted material — i.e. specifically match highlights.
Here’s what Feint Zebra said regarding the attacks from the Premier League:
“What’s a shame is that rather than embrace modern technology, the Premier League have instead decided to think about the £££ that its losing from Feint Zebra and other people like me. The same Feint Zebra who spends around £80 – £100 a month of his own money to keep this site going and doing what I’m doing. The same Feint Zebra that’s making approx £12 per month on advertising. The same Feint Zebra who is obviously going to damage the Premier League so much that its going to end up in liquidation.”
The Premier League (and UEFA for Champions League rights) obviously see animated GIFs as a hindrance to the Internet media rights that the leagues sell to media companies in each country, where these companies pay large sums of money for the rights to show matches and highlights online. However, the reality is that the goal highlights through legal means are:
(1) not posted in a timely manner. While animated GIFs are posted within minutes of a goal being scored, official goal highlights can take more than 30 minutes or 60 minutes before they’re posted online, and
(2) not playable worldwide. Because we live in a globalized world, official goal highlights are available online but are restricted by GEO location. Animated GIFs are not restricted by any region, so no matter where you live in the world, you can watch them. With legal goal highlights, you have to first hunt to find out what site/media company has the rights to goal/match highlights in your country, and then you have to try to find the specific clip you want to view. And then finally you probably have to watch a commercial before you can see the actual clip.
With social media, it’s a conversation that’s happening globally and isn’t restricted by GEO location. So when someone like Feint Zebra posts an animated GIF of a key moment in a game, it’s easy to watch, share and to have a conversation about.
Animated GIFs play an important role on the Internet, and won’t be going away anytime soon. Some companies have even embraced the form of media, realizing its potential. For example, the makers of the movie Anchorman 2 have produced their own animated GIFs to promote their film, encouraging people to share them. Meanwhile the Premier League is still living in the past.
If NetResult thought that policing the Internet for video clips of goal highlights was difficult, then animated GIFs is going to be a much tougher battle.