Forget, Mayweather v. Pacquaio: The Big Fight Was Apparently Hollywood v. Periscope Streaming

Remember, just last week, when HBO and Showtime were flipping out about a couple of streaming sites promising to broadcast live streams of the big Flord Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight? Apparently, they had the wrong target.

Just a few weeks earlier we had noted that Hollywood seemed to be losing its mind over the latest round of livestreaming apps. Never mind that livestreaming apps have been around for ages, because there were two new shiny ones (Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, and Meerkat), suddenly it was a “big deal” again. Especially when it came to sporting events. We’d already discussed the NHL’s silly ban on reporters, saying they couldn’t use Periscope. All of that came together this weekend in a collective mess.

First, many of the big pay TV providers experienced outages, meaning that people who paid $100 to see just this one fight found themselves completely locked out. Looking for a solution, they turned to Periscope. And they apparently found what they were looking for. And, it probably didn’t help that Twitter (again, owner of Periscope) CEO Dick Costolo tweeted the following, claiming “the winner is… Periscope.” Of course as some pointed out, he may have really been talking about the fact that HBO itself used Periscope to show inside Pacquaio’s dressing room before the fight — which seems like a pretty good way to use the technology. However, if this ever leads to a lawsuit, expect that tweet to be an exhibit of an out-of-context claim by HBO/Showtime that Twitter was somehow “inducing” infringement on its platform.

Either way, given how popular the bogus storyline is that there’s some sort of existential struggle between Silicon Valley and Hollywood, the resulting news story practically writes itself. Once again, we hear of big bad technology completely tearing down pure hearted big copyright holders, and how “something must be done!”

It will be absurd for Twitter to mount the defense that it complies with any takedown notices filed over copyright-infringing content. Because by the time the compliance occurs the livestream is already over, the company is going to need to figure out a better way to combat piracy on the fly. Periscope may require something like Google’s Content ID system, technology capable of identifying forbidden streams in an instant, and maybe even converting them to transactional opportunities for legal alternatives to the content in question.

Wait, it would be absurd for Twitter to say “look, we comply with the law, what else do you want us to do?” Why? Why is it Twitter’s responsibility here? Why not the promoters of the show to make sure that their partners supplying the paid streams actually have technology infrastructure in place that works? Or why not Showtime and HBO for creating additional reasons for people to sign up for its service, rather than signing on to one of the Periscope streams?

Why, again, does Hollywood always seem to (1) blame the tech industry for its own failures and (2) then demand that the tech industry magically stop what is unstoppable? Why not, instead, recognize that the technology is really useful, that people like it, and look for ways to take advantage of that? Why not offer an official Periscope stream or partner with others who are Periscoping on their own to offer different/better commentary? There are many things that they could do to embrace things rather than complain about it (or threaten to sue).

Technology keeps advancing. Pretending that you can stop that technology is not a productive path towards the future. Hollywood keeps having to relearn this lesson with every new major technological advancement. It tried to stop the radio, the television, cable TV, the photocopier, the VCR, the MP3 player, the DVR, YouTube and more. One day, you’d think they’d learn that this is a bad strategy.

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