There are now many channels whose only purpose is to take a whole NBA game and basically condense it into a 10-minute video. What they do is to show only the plays that lead to a made basket in chronological order from start to finish. There is no commentary or criticism. They show the video as it was broadcast.

Why isn't this copyright infringement?

  • 7
    Who says it isn't? If it hasn't been taken down, that could also be because the content owner isn't aware of it or because the content owner decided to let it stay up (possibly in return for getting the ad money from the video).
    – cpast
    Feb 21 '21 at 18:09

It probably is infringement, assuming that this is being done by copying parts of a broadcast of the game. It is up to the holder of the copyright on the original broadcast that is being condensed to decide whether to sue or take other action, such as a takedown notice. Perhaps the holder thinks this is good advertising for its business. They have the right to make that decision.

Now if a person went to the game, and used a personal camera to film it, and posted excepts of that recording, the legal issues would be very different. The ticket probably includes a provision prohibiting filming and photography, so this would be a breech of contract. But it would not be copyright infringement. (In practice if this were spotted, the person would be required to stop recording or leave, at least.)


Honestly, accepting what you say as 100% true, and assuming these channels don't have a valid license of some sort, I think it might be copyright infringement. I think the law is that a sports contest itself isn't copyrightable, but the broadcast of it probably is.

Copyrights are all around us, and copyright infringement happens all the time (though this is NOT to say that you should do it, you shouldn't). The real question is, if it is copyright infringement, is it worth anyone's time to try to enforce? I doubt it. Good copyright lawyers are expensive. But maybe I just don't know the business that well. I think I read somewhere that film studios pretty aggressively enforce their copyrights when copies of their movies are put up on 'watch for free' sites.

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