April 4, 2017

Mundine/Green Facebook Live Copyright Controversy

Facebook Live Streaming

In February 2017, the much anticipated Mundine/Green fight took place.  This long-awaited match was expected to be an intense fight between two rivals, however, Australias received more than just one fight when a dispute over copyright emerged between Foxtel, the official broadcaster, and two Facebook users.

It is alleged, that approximately 300,000 people viewed the fight via Facebook’s live-streaming service when the two men streamed the fight through their Facebook accounts.  Foxtel, being the official broadcaster, alleges that the streaming of the fight violates their copyright as they held the exclusive rights to air the fight. Foxtel threatened legal action against the Facebook users.

The unofficial follow-up fight, however, did not last long as the two Facebook users issued public apologies the following week.

So why did the streaming of the fight cause such a disagreement?

Copyright law in Australia

Copyright law has a long history in Australia.  Within the area of intellectual property law, copyright is one of the few rights bestowed automatically.  This means that unlike trade marks or patents, the person or company seeking the legal protection afforded by copyright law does not need to apply or be approved, it simply exists over the published work.

As the rightful owner or creator of the work, you get to decide how and whom may re-publish your work. In the case of Foxtel, the organiser chose Foxtel to exclusively broadcast the fight.  This means that Foxtel was the only entity that had permission to air the fight.  Foxtel argues that streaming the fight is the same as broadcasting and therefore when the two men streamed the fight, they were violating Foxtel’s exclusive rights.

Live-streaming Services

Whether you view Foxtel’s actions as extreme or not, the potential legal issues relating to live-streaming will make headlines again as the service becomes more popular.

While this situation highlights the negative of live-streaming, live-streaming services do offer many benefits for businesses and companies who are looking to build their brand awareness or ‘connect’ with customers in ways that traditional print marketing does provide for.

If you are considering using live-stream services it is important that you understand the terms of service (or the rules) to avoid unnecessary legal issues.

Know your rights

When you sign up to a service that offers live-streaming (e.g. Facebook), there will be terms and conditions that govern how you can use the service including provisions about what you are allowed to stream and what you are not allowed to stream.

With all the major streaming platforms, the terms and conditions do state that you are not to do any action that will infringe another person’s rights including their copyright.   This generally means, you may not re-broadcast something you did not create or have permission to show.

When things go wrong

The consequence of violating a no-infringing clause is that the platform can disable your account and prevent you from using their service again.   Losing access to your social media accounts on either a temporary or permanent basis can have potential negative consequences to the goodwill of your business as you can no longer interact with your customers.

Limiting your risk

So how can you limit your risks when using live-streaming services?  Below are 5 suggestions to assist in reducing your risk:

  1. Don’t stream or post what you don’t own

Creating original content is the easiest way to avoid unnecessary legal issues.  Host round-tables, conduct interviews or other activities where you are responsible for creating the content.

When you create the content, you are the owner of the copyright, granting you the rights to broadcast.  You can avoid issues when you are in control.

  1. If it’s not yours, it’s not yours

If you didn’t create the content, if you are streaming a TV show, sporting event or concert, there is a chance that you could see legal action brought against you.

Always avoid streaming something you don’t own or have the right to show.

  1. Understand the terms and conditions

Regardless if it is your first time live-streaming for your company or you are seasoned pro, it is important to check the rules relating to how you may use the live-streaming service.  The terms of use published by each live-stream service will state how and what you are allowed to stream and what you are not allowed to stream.  Consult these terms to avoid problems following your broadcast.

  1. Getting caught in the act isn’t the point

Social media platforms operate on a complaint system.  This means platforms generally will only respond after they receive a complaint, this could be during the stream, the following day or even a month later (depending on how long the video is available).  Simply not being stopped during a live-stream does not mean you will not receive a complaint later.

  1. When in doubt, consult a professional

If you are unsure if your marketing plan is up to scratch or simply have questions about using any aspect of social media for your business, seek legal advice.  Here at Rouse Lawyers, we are happy to help at any stage of your plans; from providing advice on a marketing plan or representing you in a copyright infringement, we are here to assist you and your business to reach success.

If you take precaution, you can limit your risks while increasing your customer base.  It’s a win-win for everyone when you follow the rules.

Need further information about this case, or your rights regarding live streaming?  Contact the experts at Rouse Lawyers today on 07 3667 9696