Fair Play: GIFs are Here to Stay

No matter how you pronounce it: GIFs are extremely popular, particularly among millennials. Apart from the steeply divided phonetic debate regarding the file format, GIFs and the people who use them everyday, have always been a sore spot for corporations, celebrities, and organizations who feel that they don’t fall under “fair use” provisions under copyright law.  For example: The NFL does not give their consent to have pouty-faced Philip Rivers, after a loss, looping on Facebook for all to see. They’d rather you pay for the privilege of seeing his discontent, after an interception, or incomplete pass.


The 9th Circuit Court disagrees however: “The Copyright Act exists “‘to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.” and that an overzealous monopolist can use his copyright to stamp out the very creativity that the Act seeks to ignite.” This, from a 2013 case Google v. Oracle which still has enormous implications for image sharing startups like Giphy, Reddit, Imgur, and 9gag. Solabyte supports the court’s decision that these snippets fall under “fair use.” But don’t be calling it a “victory” yet, particularly because GIFs are getting longer, with better definition, and more prevalent as technology advances. This type of lawsuit can be easily brought to the federal level, making the likelihood of “fair use” becoming: “unfair payment.”


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