This morning Twitter suspended the accounts of a number of music publications. The accounts in question — The Fader, 2DopeBoyz, Pigeons and Planes, and Hip Hop N More — were suspended following a string of tweets which featured footage from both the BET Awards and the NBA Awards, which were on Sunday and Monday evening respectively.
While Twitter does not comment on individual accounts, Pigeons and Planes did confirm that the site was recently notified of a copyright infringement notice filed by Viacom, the company that owns BET. Viacom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The infringement likely came from tweeting video content from the awards ceremony that had been recorded using a cell phone. Though it's rare for Twitter to suspend major publications for copyright infringement, there is precedent. In 2015, the sports sites Deadspin and SB Nation were suspended due to a barrage of copyright takedown requests from the NFL for posting video clips from games. Similarly, during last year's summer Olympics, Twitter took down a large number of tweets which violated the International Olympic Committee's ruling that only rights-holding broadcasters can share “sound or moving images” from the games.
According to three sources, the publications are addressing the issues with legal teams and Twitter to reinstate their accounts. Still, the hard line from Twitter is a clear signal to publications and individuals that a copyright violation notice from a major media company is the most reliable way to lose access to one's account.
Twitter's hair trigger on copyright enforcement is in stark contrast to its response to individuals that have experienced harassment on the site. And given Twitter's decade-long history struggling with abuse and hate speech on the platform, a number of users have complained about what they perceive as an unfair discrepancy in response time.