- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Twitter took action against the official accounts of sports websites Deadspin and SBNation this week after receiving takedown notices from the National Football League and Ultimate Fighting Championship, among others.

The @Deadspin and @SBNationGIF accounts were both suspended by Twitter on Monday as the result of tweeted content that ran afoul of the sports leagues’ stringent usage policies.

According to takedown requests provided by Twitter, the infringing tweets all contained sports footage either through animated GIF files or brief video clips that had been uploaded through the social media platform Vine.

Gawker Media’s @Deadspin profile was restored by Twitter on Monday evening around two hours after being suspended, but SB Nation’s GIF-centric Twitter account was still offline early Tuesday afternoon.

Twitter declined to comment specifically on the allegations concerning either of the accounts, but provided members of the media with more than a dozen takedown notices that had been filed by the NFL and UFC, as well as the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 college football conferences.

“As you may be aware, the NFL owns and/or controls the worldwide rights to license intellectual property of the NFL and its Member Clubs, including, but not limited to, moving images and other audio/video content featuring NFL game action and/or other NFL programming (collectively, ‘NFL Content’), and the copyrights in and to the NFL Content,” reads the language of the takedown requests sent by the football league.

“The NFL sent routine notices as part of its copyright enforcement program requesting that Twitter disable links to more than a dozen pirated NFL game videos and highlights that violate the NFL’s copyrights,” the league said in a statement. “We did not request that any Twitter account be suspended.”

John Cook, the executive editor of Gawker Media, told The New York Times that Deadspin received 18 individual copyright notices that had been filed with Twitter concerning a total of 16 tweets. “Those tweets were not taken down, but Twitter stripped them of GIFs containing NFL highlights,” Mr. Cook explained. The posts now read “Tweet withheld: This Tweet from @Deadspin has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder” when loaded.

But according to takedown notices filed by UFC, the fighting league was much more aggressive with its demands for Deadspin. With regards to those supposed infringing posts, Twitter was told to “immediately disable access to the individual who has uploaded the copyright infringing content to your website and terminate any and all accounts this individual has through you.”

“We take copyright infringement issues seriously and always try to keep our use of unlicensed third party footage within the bounds of fair use,” SBNation told TechCrunch in response to the takedown requests.

The NFL and Twitter have partnered up together since 2013. In August, Adam Bain, Twitter’s head of revenue and partnerships, announced that the two had inked a multiyear, content-and-ads video deal that was touted at the time as giving social media users “access to significantly more official NFL content than in the past, including in-game highlights from pre-season through Super Bowl 50.”

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