Perhaps one of the bigger stories to come out of SummerSlam – online at least – was the new hard-line that WWE’s been taking against individuals who are sharing content.
During SummerSlam, the Twitter accounts of two popular users were suspended, with @SenorLariato and @DeathToAllMarks having been taken down, presumably for their sharing of content during SummerSlam. Lariato and DTAM were well known on the Twittersphere for their myriad of GIFs that usually came during live events, and from whatever they were watching.
Back in February, it was actually one of SenorLariato’s GIFs that sparked the whole Vader/Will Ospreay controversy that ended up drawing a sell-out crowd for Revolution Pro Wrestling earlier this month. Whilst technically, the posting of GIFs during live events (or otherwise) is piracy, it’s akin to going after people for posting screenshots of movies. Technically it’s a crime, but has anyone ever seen a screenshot from a game, or a GIF of a wrestling match and gone “hey, I was going to buy that show, but that low resolution GIF has given me all I wanted to see from the entire card”?
Using the example of that Rev Pro show with Vader vs. Ospreay, it saddened me immensely to find out that sections of that event had been unofficially been streamed live by fans, with the Vader/Ospreay main event in particular having been streamed to around 600 fans.
Amongst other companies, RPW have taken great strides with their online product, in that the entire show was available to stream within 48 hours of the final bell on Friday night. So what was the need for fans Periscoping the match? Are we really in a society where people simply cannot wait to see something? Sadly, the answer is yes…
Comments on social media suggested that people had jumped onto the Periscope feed to see the match, partially because the show was sold out, which makes sense logically (if not legally), but also because they wanted to see “how bad” the match was. Let’s toss aside any online gimmicks that fans may give themselves, but where’s the disconnect in the argument of “I don’t like Will Ospreay, I heard his match with Vader was bad, so I’ll just watch a pirated stream of it”? It’s not like all of your $8.50/month for the subscription is going to Will Ospreay. He’s already been paid regardless of where you watch his match (or indeed, if you don’t), so why is this acceptable to some people?
Every wrestling promotion lives or dies by it’s live events. Yes, WWE has a sizable financial cushion in the name of TV and Network revenues, but every other promotion could quickly fall by the wayside if fans en masse decide to pirate their product. If all of those 600 people who Periscope’d Friday’s show paid to watch it on-demand, that’s about an extra $5,000 dollars, some of which’d filter down to the promotion which could then go on booking extra talent, maybe an extra show, or even (being sarcastic) getting around to making a second frame for Pete Dunne’s entrance video.
We’ve all seen the anti-piracy adverts for movies, and we all know that same applies for all forms of art – be it TV shows, music, movies or wrestling. Especially when you’ve got companies bending over backwards to release stuff within days of the show ending, you’ve got no excuse. If you love something, or even if you “just” appreciate it, you pay for it. But there is a critical difference between a snippet (such as a short GIF of, say, a spot) and sharing entire matches or shows illegitimately.
We’ve probably reviewed several things from YouTube that may be walking a fine line regarding piracy – but there’s a slight difference between material being on a website that has a policy for taking down content, and something like Periscope which is pirating stuff as it’s happening. Even the older WWE content, you could make the argument that if they’ve got a platform to monetize it (say, the WWE Network) and they’re not making moves to, then it’s fair game… that, my friends, is merely me playing Devil’s Advocate!
Going back to those Twitter suspensions, it didn’t go unnoticed that throughout SummerSlam, WWE were posting video clips on Twitter – whilst actively going after those who were doing the same, albeit in lower quality. On the surface, that seems a little uncompetitive, especially if there was no friendly warnings in the past.
Promoters and wrestlers alike massively put over Lariato and DTAM after their accounts went the way of Brother Nero:
Live GIF’ing wrestling or any other entertainment is so important these days. Every company should be doing it. A mini soundless trailer.
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) August 22, 2016
The world unfortunately lost some very good Twitter accounts tonight 😫 we shall miss you forever.
— Austin Creed (@XavierWoodsPhD) August 22, 2016
Yes.. These 2 are Soldiers of the Light in the #GreatWar.
This is the work of MeekMahan’s Dark Demons of Despotism. https://t.co/DqhKhBORK5
— #BROKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) August 22, 2016
Very sad to see @SenorLariato suspended by Twitter. Uses my IP all the time. Doesn’t hinder he helps. Shortsighted to think any different.
— Andy Quildan (@AQuildan) August 22, 2016
When you have independent promoters – the very people whom WWE would have you believe would be hurt most by the Twitter GIF-ers – putting over these guys, you know that WWE, or at least, their hired goons, have badly misjudged things.
Still, when shutting down two Twitter accounts is easier to do than close a Torrent site or three, or even take down YouTubers who broadcast a four-hour live stream with commentary audibly in the background, I guess you’ve got to start with the low hanging fruit to prove your worth, eh?