20 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - Broadcasting

Just as spring is followed by summer is followed by autumn, so a FIDE World Championship event is followed by live online broadcasting is followed by threats from FIDE/Agon/Worldchess against the broadcasters. The latest example of this (un-)natural phenomenon is FIDE Live Moves Broadcasting Policy (fide.com; 15 March 2018):-

In an effort to maintain the commercial viability of chess, FIDE is inviting federations, organisers and other interested parties to submit their comments and provide feedback with regard to the draft "Live moves broadcasting" policy published herewith. • Comments and feedback can be sent by 31 May 2018.

Anyone surprised by this wasn't paying attention to last year's FIDE Congress. As I reported on my World Chess Championship blog, in 2017 FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship? (November 2017),

The first/last point, Annex 67, is perhaps the most important for the future of the World Championship:-

"To: Members of the Working Group to Study the Proposal of Agon Limited on Protection of Live Chess Moves [...] The Draft Policy recognizes the right of the World Chess Federation to control the live dissemination of the FIDE events' moves. Furthermore, it provides for the measures to be taken against persons interfering with this right. [...] Sincerely, Matvey Shekhovtsov"

We've already seen Shekhovtsov once on this blog in 2016 Candidates, Moscow (November 2015), regarding a 'change in the Agon/FIDE interface team' (Andrew Paulson out, Merenzon & Shekhovtsov in). We've also seen the subject of the draft in World Championship Bullying (November 2016). It's not clear to me how FIDE expects to contravene well-established copyright law with an internal procedure, so I'm certain we haven't seen the last of this topic.

The latest document on 'Live moves broadcasting' is an evolution of that 'Annex 67'. A comparison of the two documents gives some insights into the thinking of FIDE insiders, but I won't bore readers of this post with the details. There is a portion of the document that would even apply to small-fry bloggers like me:-

3.1. The following actions shall be regarded as violations of the Broadcasting right:
- unauthorized live move-by-move broadcast of FIDE events via any means of communication including, but not limited to Internet, Radio and Television;
- contributing to organization of unauthorized live move-by-move broadcast;
- advertising and/or promoting unauthorized live move-by-move broadcast.

So if I write a post promoting, say, Chess24.com's broadcasts of the forthcoming World Championship in London, I might be guilty of 'promoting unauthorized live move-by-move broadcast'. What would my punishment be? From the FIDE draft, section 6.1:-

  • First-time violation. For the first time violation a fine in the amount of 1 Euro is imposed.
  • Second-time violation. For the second-time violation a prohibition on taking part in a chess competition, or in any chess-related activity for 3 months and prohibition to hold official positions at FIDE and its member organisations for 3 months shall be imposed.
  • Third-time and further violations. For the third-time violation, as well as for any subsequent violation, a prohibition from taking part in a chess competition, or in any chess-related activity for 1 year and a prohibition to hold official positions at FIDE and its member organizations for 1 year shall be imposed.

Since the phrases 'chess competition' and 'any chess-related activity' aren't restricted to FIDE-controlled activities, I'm wondering how FIDE plans to enforce that punishment. In the meantime, I've set aside a Euro (currently about US$ 1.25) to pay the fine for any first-time violation.

For a more nuanced discussion of the FIDE draft policy, see Consultation on the Draft FIDE Live Moves Broadcasting Policy (ecforum.org.uk). For a less nuanced, more entertaining discussion of the same policy, see FIDE Live Moves Broadcasting Policy (reddit.com). Every time I write about live broadcasting of FIDE events, I end with something like 'I'm certain we haven't seen the last of this topic'. I wish I could use a better closing.

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