Debate-able: Fox shuts down unofficial live streams of Republican debate

Despite struggling to keep its own network up for the official, authentication-only live stream of the Republican debate, Fox invoked copyright to keep other outlets like YouTube and Sky News from streaming the event Thursday night.

The problem? "Fox News and Sky News are both owned by the same parent company, 21st Century Fox. In other words, Fox's hair-trigger copyright order led it to take down its own company's live-stream," a Fortune article said.

Calling it a "debacle," Fortune noted that Fox's strident enforcement of copyright surely limited the reach of the debate.

Only authenticated viewers -- those with pay-TV subscriptions -- could stream the evening debate, using either Fox News mobile apps or heading onto foxnews.com on their desktops. That kept cord-cutters out of the loop, relegating them to either try to follow the debate via chatter on Fox News' Facebook page, or run down to the local bar to watch it there.

However, Fox's servers bogged down under a surge of viewers trying to access the debate online, making the live stream inaccessible for part of the event.

Many people quickly found Sky News' live stream on its YouTube channel (thanks to guidance from Twitter users). But in the latter part of the debate the stream was shut down after Fox News issued the copyright claim.

Invoking copyright law to protect its own debate isn't necessarily unusual or surprising; it's similar to much-hyped sporting events, such as the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight earlier this spring. In that case, HBO found itself playing whack-a-mole as it chased down illegal streams of the fight, such as on live-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat.

However, Fortune brought up a couple of interesting questions, such as why Fox didn't just make the debates available to everyone. Further, despite prominently placing Facebook's logo on the right side of the TV screen and behind the participants during the debate, the network didn't leverage the social media site's growing video capability at all. Viewers were simply prompted to "join the chat" on the network's Facebook page.

Fox News had not responded to a request for comment by press time.

For more:
- Fortune has this article

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