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Summary:

The BBC’s technology correspondent is a serial intellectual property thief. Or, that’s how Rory Cellan-Jones seems to be feeling at the mome…

The BBC’s technology correspondent is a serial intellectual property thief. Or, that’s how Rory Cellan-Jones seems to be feeling at the moment. After YouTube last year warned the reporter about using a Cat Stevens track in one of his family videos, it’s now deleted a video he posted from Saturday’s Football League Two football match between Brentford and Exeter City.

Writes Cellan-Jones: “It wasn’t exactly Match Of The Day … I wasn’t trying to record match highlights – my aims was to try out a new mini high-definition camera … I’d somehow forgotten that the Football League are policing YouTube closely – and also assumed that they were looking out for material grabbed from the television, not a few frames of video shot from the crowd. It looks as though my camera doesn’t belong to me once I go through the turnstiles at a football ground.”

The Premier League, trying to protect rights bought by broadcasters for megabucks, is still fighting a New York court case to force YouTube to better police its site for copyrighted material. Football League online highlights rights are held by Virgin Media.

YouTube’s message to Cellan-Jones demonstrates not only that it’s actively shutting down infringers – but also that the rules extend beyond copying from just televised matches, even to material captured by match-goers. In an age when every football fan can carry their own online broadcasting gear in a cameraphone, expect these warnings to become increasingly prevalent – and increasingly futile.

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  1. This isn't a surprise – one of the conditions of entry to a football match (used to be on the back of tickets, back in the day) is that you agree not to photograph or video the game, and that if you do take images/video, you forfeit the IP to club or league.

    But think of the bigger picture. What happens when (if) anyone with a tiny HD camera can film and post an entire match? What happens when, thanks to 3G/4G, they can do it *live*?

    Suddenly, the millions of pounds that TV companies pay for live/highlight rights don't look good value – so TV companies don't pay them. Which means, in turn, that clubs go bust, because their business model is all about TV rights.

    These kind of warnings may, as you say, be futile – but without an alternate business model, they are also inevitable.

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