Canucks and Beyond

The NHL Bites Back?

10/26/2007 at 4:50pm EDT

[Updated below, with a response from the NHL.]

I happened upon something interesting last night: Madison Square Garden’s Youtube account, MSG Online, has been suspended. And from what I can tell, no videos have been posted to that account for about a week or so prior to this suspension.

It’s hard to say what’s going on—and my requests for an explanation from both MSG and the NHL have yet to provide an explanation—but it’s a curious situation.

First of all, an account suspension is how Youtube has previously responded when a copyright holder has erected a challenge to the content carried by one of its members. And secondly, the NHL itself has enforced their copyright claims with Youtube in the past.

So it makes me wonder: did the NHL claim a copyright violation by MSG and the New York Rangers, and request Youtube suspend their account?

If so, it would be an extraordinary step to have taken. Not to mention, by taking down the MSG site, it’s not just the NYR’s content which is affected but the general MSG account, including that posted there by the NBA’s NY Knicks.

As a recent story in the New York Times notes, the NHL’s “owners voted, 25 to 3, to approve the transfer of all 30 teams’ digital rights to the league last year. The Rangers didn’t vote for it, and have battled the vote ever since.” Digital ownership rights are a major issue of contention here.

But perhaps this Youtube suspension has nothing to do with the NHL? Maybe this is all just a strange coincidence?

I suppose that’s possible… we’ll just have to wait and see.

Update 2:14pm PT:

The NHL’s senior vice president for communications Bernadette Mansur has kindly responded to my inquiry from earlier today with this statement. “The NHL has no involvement in, or knowledge of, this situation.”

Still no response from MSG explaining what actually is the cause of their account suspension, but it would appear my own speculation was innaccurate.

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