When I heard about the launch of two new services allowing users to post live video feeds on Twitter, my cynical first thought was that this should lead to increased copyright infringement. After Sunday’s premier of the new season of Game of Thrones, this is exactly what happened but it’s not really that big of a problem, yet.
Recently, two new programs, Meerkat and Periscope, were launched with similar functions. Both services allow people to share live video on Twitter to a person’s followers. Periscope is owned by Twitter and Twitter has pushed celebrities to ditch Meerkat and use Periscope.
The technology is amazing and opens the door to a new outlet for creative content but it could also lead to piracy. A user can simply point their smartphone at the television or even a movie theater screen and share content with millions of people. This is an unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted material and infringement.
During Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, the apps were used to share content illegally. On the brighter side, the number of streams, reportedly around 25, shared low quality video that at times was difficult to hear. The quality was more like the days of bootleg movies, not the pristine digital ones we have today, but the shaky handheld video camera recorded ones that usually overheard people gobbling down popcorn.

According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the content owners, HBO in the case of Game of Thrones, is responsible for finding the illicit content and reporting it for shutdown. However, Periscope has vowed to be proactive and shut down any accounts that get caught streaming copyrighted content without permission. Time will tell as technologies become better whether this will become a big problem for movie makers.