Meerkat and Periscope are attempting to make live streaming fashionable. Despite reservations about poor quality video and grainy user footage, showcasing life in real time is unquestionably the next popular trend in social media. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Don't forget-- It wasn't that long ago that cellphone cameras were ubiquitous with low resolution photos, before their quality rivaled that of high-end cameras. It is only a matter of time before Meerkat and Periscope offers the premium viewing quality audiences have grown to expect from visual media. Unfortunately when there's a popular trend, someone is going to figure out how to game the system. In the case of Meerkat and Periscope, it's Internet Pirates.
Are Meerkat and Periscope going to evolve as the preferred method of internet pirates? Generally, as in the case with YouTube, a take down notice is sent from a copyright owner and Youtube then removes the content. The owner of the channel who posted the video can then submit a response to explain why the video should be put back up. Studios and other large corporate content creators have entire departments dedicated to sending take-down notices to YouTube. Independent content creators, don't have the time or money to sit on YouTube, let alone Periscope or Meerkat to scan for piracy. Here are 3 hurdles independent content creators may need to overcome to try and stop the livestreaming of unowned content beyond the companies requesting users to report infractions.
1) The Digital Millennium Copyright Act currently doesn't apply to live streamed content, only content redistributed.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is hardly a favorite legislation of internet piracy advocates. For much of the 21st century, it has been the act which empowers the US government to take down popular piracy sites in the name of content creators.
One problem: the DMCA only applies to content that is recorded for redistribution for illegal means. In the case of Meerkat and Periscope, users are never recording content, yet the threat of illegal redistribution is equal to that of sites which host illegally recorded content.
2) It's going to be difficult to prove that a user is sharing content illegally.
Proving that a user is hosting illegal shared content may be of extreme difficulty due to current technological limitations.* As preferred in any case which goes to court nowadays, photo and video evidence can sway a jury or judge in ways simple argumentation may not. This is where an issue may erupt with these platforms, as any user who seeks to protect their rights will probably need to find a way to record content not meant for recording in order to prove that someone is illegally distributing content they do not own. Doesn't that sound like a chicken and egg situation? We think so.
3) We can't just rely on users.
Meerkat and Periscope's response has been to listen to user requests for copyright infringements. Once receiving word of a violation, the app shuts the offending user down in an attempt to curtail the damage already done. Both Meerkat and Periscope are operating on blind faith of users stepping up, which leaves a potential for abuse by users and the problem of illegally streamed content not being found by systems administrators. If the apps are focusing on users to step up, that is a surefire way to understand that current law is insufficient.
* Update June 23, 2015: Persicope began allowing replays of the live streams for 24 hours after the stream ends.