Poland and Turkey at the FIBA U18 European Championship. Poland and Turkey at the FIBA U18 European Championship. (FIBA on YouTube, via BasketNews.com.)

Copyright strikes against sports videos posted to Twitter happen quite frequently, but it’s certainly rarer to see one that takes place right around critical reporting and impacts that reporting. That’s what happened to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony Sunday, though.

On Saturday, Givony posted video of what he described as unsafe conditions due to heat and humidity at the Mika Antic elementary school gym in Nis, Serbia, where FIBA U18 European Championship matches were being held. The conditions there during a Turkey-Poland match saw Turkish guard  Yagiz Aksu and Polish forward Jakub Szumert both leave with injuries from slipping on the court, with Szumert taken to hospital for evaluation. After Szumert’s injury, which took place with five minutes left in the game, players from both teams expected the game to be called, but the officials insisted they play on. So both teams finished the game without taking another shot as a means of protest, intentionally taking shot-clock violations and committing turnovers. And Givony’s video of some of that wound up being removed after a copyright strike from FIBA:

On Sunday, Givony tweeted about that video removal, which (as per standard Twitter DMCA takedown procedures) also came with a lock on his account until he reviewed their copyright policies.

What isn’t completely clear is if the copyright takedown here was specifically initiated by someone at FIBA in response to Givony’s reporting (which also produced a detailed ESPN.com piece on the situation), or if the copyright strike was done without knowledge of or reference to his reporting. The timing certainly suggests a link, but it doesn’t prove one; many copyright claims are done through third-party agencies and are largely automated, based more on detection of what’s in a video than particular video content or the context associated with the video in the tweet.

But a few copyright claims in the past have definitely appeared to be targeted strikes against particular reporting or commentary. And, in support of the intentional case, other videos from both Turkey-Poland and the subsequent France-Sweden game (which also featured those dangerous court conditions) have not yet been taken down, which you might expect if this was just an algorithm trying to go after FIBA content:

Update: Givony confirmed to AA that this was a manual takedown request, that it falsely claimed he used footage from FIBA’s YouTube channel instead of his own privately-shot video, and that he has filed a counter-claim. We’ll see what develops from that. At any rate, FIBA did eventually tell Givony the Turkey-Poland game should not have continued:

Nearly 24 hours later, FIBA acknowledged its error and vowed to examine why players were told to continue to play despite the injury risk presented by the arena’s conditions.

“The game between Poland and Turkey should have been stopped by the game officials because of the adverse conditions inside that gym,” FIBA wrote in an emailed statement to ESPN. “Our Competitions department will investigate this matter to understand why it was not done.”

…With temperatures expected to rise past 100 degrees early in the week, FIBA appears unlikely to move the games from the elementary school gym, blaming “an extreme thunderstorm [which] affected the area. It was so strong that water came in from the roof of the Cair venue, and the games had to be stopped for a period of time, for the floors to be wiped clean. All teams were consulted and agreed to proceed with the program of games.

“Local organizers proceeded to carefully clean all areas and all necessary measures were taken to avoid any issues going forward.”

Regardless of if FIBA officials specifically ordered the code red on Givony’s video or not, the timing of that removal did not look good for them. And, in a classic Streisand effect, it further amplified the story of the dangerous conditions at this tournament.

[ESPN; image from FIBA’s YouTube channel, via BasketNews]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.