The English Premier League’s attempt to control the internet will almost certainly fail

Has the EPL scored an own goal already?
Has the EPL scored an own goal already?
Image: Reuters/Dylan Martinez
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The European soccer season is almost back again, with the latest edition of the English Premier League kicking off in a matter of hours. But this year, those who like to keep up with the action via social media may find the experience underwhelming.

The EPL is looking to clamp down on the sharing of unofficial clips of goals and other highlights posted to Vine, the Twitter owned video-clip sharing network, reports The Guardian.  ”It’s a breach of copyright and we would discourage fans from doing it, we’re developing technologies like gif crawlers, Vine crawlers, working with Twitter to look to curtail this kind of activity,” Dan Johnson, director of communications at the Premier League told the BBC.

Broadcasters, who together paid £3 billion back in 2013 for rights games in the UK on TV, aren’t likely to be threatened by short, low-quality video clips (Vines last a maximum of six seconds) being shared around the internet. But publisher News Corp might feel differently. It reportedly paid more than £20 million in 2013 for rights to show highlights from matches in the UK on the websites of its newspapers, The Times and The Sun, both of which have enacted paywalls. (Quartz has requested comment from News Corp. on the Premier League’s crackdown).

A similar thing happened during the recent World Cup. FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and Twitter took action against the sharing of Vine clips during the tournament. For people in the US, highlight clips of World Cup games were easily obtainable through Google searches.

But the EPL’s heavy handed approach seems misguided: social media content can actually drive  greater awareness of its product, and encourage new people to seek it out legitimately. And if the experience of other content businesses (music, dramatic film and television) are anything to go by, people will inevitably figure out a way to get around the new technologies and restrictions anyway.