Major League Baseball and the Story of the Scary GIFs

I’m upset. And since you’ve clicked on this link, you’re about to read about why I am upset. But in order for this to make sense, I’m going to attempt an analogy.

Imagine that there are four major writers in the United States. Each of these writers has a very, very large following. There is one that is clearly ahead of the others, but all four still do very well. Now imagine that I am one of those four writers. Not the top one, but maybe the second or third depending on who you’re talking to. All four writers make their content available online. In this age, it’s something their readers demand.

Their readers are huge fans of their work and like to share the content these writers produce. The fans never claim it is their own, and they just want to make sure others see content that they may have missed. All four writers produce a lot of content, so it’s easy to miss a really fantastic sentence. Most of the writers are totally on board with their readers sharing their work. They understand that the reason they’re so popular is because their readers love the content and just want to keep talking about it and sharing it with everyone. But there is one writer that isn’t. Imagine that I am that writer.

Since it’s my content, I don’t think my fans should have it. See, when I write something about Seattle, I only want people in Seattle seeing it. Unless I write a really good sentence about Seattle, and in that case I’ll share that one sentence online with all my fans. But if one of my fans wants to share a sentence I wrote about Seattle with everyone, that crosses the line. I don’t want anyone seeing content I have produced unless it’s on my site. The other writers may be okay with this, but I’m very protective of my writing, because honestly, I just don’t understand how the Internet works and I certainly don’t understand my readers.

And this is why I am upset with Major League Baseball. For the most part, other sports don’t mind their fans sharing video clips of said sport online. The MLB doesn’t allow it. Fans of baseball, such as myself, have resorted to taking short animated clips from the games. These are known as GIFs. These GIFs tend to be about 5-10 seconds of video. This is a GIF:

Oh Mark Reynolds. - 4/11/12

The MLB doesn’t like this. It has been rumored that they want to ban all GIFs. Well good luck with that. As Timothy Burke pointed out earlier today, a GIF equates to roughly 1/151200th of an MLB work. That would be like a fan of Harry Potter posting two words from the first book and having J.K. Rowling tell them to take it down because that’s her work.

Thankfully a ban is not yet official. I’m not even sure how they would enforce a ban like this, but hopefully the MLB will see how a move like this only pushes their remaining fans further away.

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