Periscope, Meerkat, HBO and the Live-Stream Dilemma

by Pillsbury’s Internet & Social Media Law Blog

With live-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat becoming increasingly popular, the introduction of a “live” element in the social media game is creating unique business and legal concerns. While most of the videos streamed on Periscope or Meerkat merely allow users to create real-time videos to share with their followers or show snippets of everyday life (like a walk through the park or a birthday celebration), legal complications can arise when users give viewers a glimpse into highly anticipated and publicized live events.

When Periscope launched in April, HBO issued several takedown notices to the company when the cable giant discovered Periscope’s users were live-streaming the season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones. In Periscope’s first three months of existence, the company received almost 1,400 copyright takedown requests and complied with approximately 994. The use of social media for piracy purposes (and the response in dealing with this problem) is nothing new—for years YouTube has been diligent in self-policing for copyright infringing content and responding to takedown notices. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, third parties like Periscope enjoy a safe harbor if they are not aware of the infringing activity and remove the infringing material when they receive notice of the infringing content. This “notification and takedown” system works when the content is stored on third-party servers, but what happens when the infringing material is only stored on Periscope’s servers for 24 hours or, in Meerkat’s case, not stored at all? Even if a rights holder discovers the infringing content on a live feed, the content would be gone before the rights holder could even issue a takedown notice to Periscope or Meerkat. Some argue that the piracy concern, at least with respect to TV shows and movies, will not become a real problem for media companies because the resolution and quality of a live-streamed video are far inferior to legally posted content or even other pirated versions. Whether this is true remains to be seen (especially in view of constant technological advances), but in the meantime, HBO is certainly taking the issue seriously.

Another issue Periscope and Meerkat present concerns the streaming of live entertainment, like sporting events, by users. Periscope may become a consistent and viable viewing alternative to paid broadcasts because of the interest of viewing sports live. While live-streaming at a football game may not necessarily constitute copyright infringement, it may be a breach by the Periscope user of the contract terms of their ticket. Broadcasters that pay billions of dollars for exclusive live broadcasting rights to sporting events may have a real problem with user-generated live coverage of a game. In May, Pay-Per-View lost many viewers of the highly anticipated Pacquiao-Mayweather fight to Periscope due to cable companies experiencing outage problems and the $100 price tag to view the match live. There were plenty of live-streams of the boxing match available to users, many of which later thanked Periscope on Twitter for providing them a free and easy way to watch the match. Again, how much of a problem Periscope and Meerkat may create for live sports broadcasting is yet to be seen, especially when many viewers may continue to choose viewing games on their television over their phones.

Whether these conflicts escalate into a full legal battle also remains to be seen. Much will depend on how the live-streaming user base grows, how technology improves viewability on user devices, and how Periscope and Meerkat navigate their relationships with companies like HBO in responding to piracy concerns.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Pillsbury’s Internet & Social Media Law Blog | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Pillsbury’s Internet & Social Media Law Blog

Pillsbury’s Internet & Social Media Law Blog on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.