Periscope, Meerkat create new piracy wrinkle for broadcasters, along with golden branding opportunity

As Meerkat and Periscope users enthusiastically begin live-streaming the important moments in their lives, sports broadcasters and premium networks are preparing to release the hounds on any potential copyright violators.

HBO began the chase last week, sending letters to Periscope regarding what it said were several instances of the app's users live-streaming the premiere episode of Game of Thrones. This week, the National Hockey League's commissioner sent a memo to media that cover its games, reminding them that no unauthorized use of a depiction of a game is permitted without that ubiquitous "express written approval" viewers hear about from announcers before and after a game's broadcast.

The upshot is that professional sports leagues won't allow fans or reporters to live-stream footage from their games using apps like Periscope or Meerkat.

That maxim goes for broadcasters covering league events, as well. They'll need to work out new agreements with the NHL, Major League Baseball, the NFL and NBA if they want to use a new tool like Periscope to send out game footage, and that's understandable under copyright law.

On the upside, it's forcing broadcasters to be more creative as they try to leverage the new apps to reach viewers.

Fox Sports, for example, is adding a Periscope-enabled iPad to its crew's equipment during its coverage of the NFL Draft. However, it won't be live-streaming the event itself using the app: Instead, commentators including Jay Glazer will live-stream from a restaurant near the event, analyzing each pick and discussing other sports news.

"We're experimenting with the rights we have and are not encroaching on rights we don't have," a spokesperson told FierceOnlineVideo. "FOX Sports has been experimenting with Periscope on a variety of programming and live events, including FOX Sports Live and UFC.  This is part of our effort to reach fans wherever they are consuming content."

And the NHL itself is already leveraging the Periscope app to bring team news and highlights to viewers, a Yahoo Sports blog post noted.

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