Every new technology is likely to go through some sort of growing pains before it reaches its full potential and live video streaming is no different.
At the moment, apps like Meerkat and Periscope are still so small as to not present much of a threat. There are a small number of users here, so they collectively can’t do all that much damage.
But as the users grow, expect there to be some issues that come to light. And one of the most pressing of these will be the legal concerns surrounding copyright, privacy and surveillance.
Privacy will be a big issue because it will become even easier for people to share videos of us without our consent – and unlike YouTube, there will be no evidence that it ever happened.
If you want to set up a camera to film the view from your window of passers-by, is this something you’re legally permitted to do?
In most countries, the answer is yes and you can film anyone you like as long as they are in a public space where they might reasonably expect to be seen by other people anyway. If you’re on their private property though, then you stand to face legal repercussions.
The caveat is that people should be able to request to have their face blurred out – though there’s no means for doing this on a live streaming app. What’s more, the law is going to vary in different countries which will present some unique challenges for these apps in the future.
This issue is also quite likely to result in protests from people who don’t like the idea of a ‘surveillance state’. Imagine a world where everyone is using Periscope – the government will instantly have eyes on every street. This is an issue for the makers of the app to tackle though and not for most vloggers to worry about.
Copyright is also going to be an issue. Being able to watch any concert or comedy show around the world is one of the exciting promises of live streaming but it obviously presents issues.
How this will play out is again yet to be seen, but just make sure that you’re careful not to include copyright music, video or other content without getting express permission first. Of course it’s unlikely there will be repercussions for having some music on in the background while you talk – but just be careful!