The Daily Beast found more than 40 accounts used by Barstool Sports to repost copyrighted material.
The accounts ripped and posted copyrighted clips embedded and reposted by Barstool, per The Daily Beast.
It’s not the first time the blog has been accused of stealing content in a way that garnered media attention.
Barstool Sports used a group of more than 40 sock puppet accounts to rip off copyrighted content and avoid licensing fees while growing its massive audience, according to a new investigation by The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast’s report, published Monday, found that email addresses associated with the hugely popular sports entertainment blog were connected to low-profile accounts on X, formerly Twitter, which were used to post copyrighted content that the Barstool Sports account would then repost and share with its 5.3 million followers.
The outlet identified the accounts by searching through the low-profile pages Barstool Sports had reposted from and found they were set up shortly before Barstool engaged with their posts. Using the site’s password reset system, The Daily Beast discovered the accounts were associated with email addresses under the barstoolsports.com domain.
The system provided the brand — founded, sold, and recently repurchased by Dave Portnoy — a “crude but effective” way to avoid Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) strikes against its primary X account, per The Daily Beast. With repeated strikes, accounts can be suspended, according to internal policy on the site. Per the Daily Beast, some puppet accounts were suspended for posting unlicensed content. However, Barstool accounts could still repost from the shadow accounts without fear of being impacted by the takedown notices.
Representatives for Barstool Sports did not respond to a request for comment from Insider. Neither Portnoy nor the company’s CEO, Erika Ayers Badan, commented for The Daily Beast story.
The Daily Beast’s investigation is the latest example of Barstool Sports being accused of sharing content without crediting the creators. In 2019, Portnoy had a public spat with a comedian, Miel Bredouw, who claimed the site re-posted a video of hers without permission or credit. A lawyer for the company apologized to the woman at the time, offering her a gift card to the site’s online store to retract her DMCA complaint. Portnoy later called the lawyer’s actions “moronic” and said the approach “makes us look like assholes.”
According to a copyright lawsuit filed by an attorney on behalf of photographer Brigitte Stelzer in 2018, Barstool Sports faced lawsuits over copyright infringement 11 times between 2016 and 2018. Each of the cases was settled.
In 2019, per earlier reporting by The Daily Beast, the company acknowledged it had published stolen intellectual property after splicing a GIF of a fuzzy blue monster into its popular Snapchat program. Ben Rubin, the creative director of the marketing studio that made the monster, told the outlet he emailed Barstool Sports trying to barter with them over using the image. Still, they didn’t respond until he threatened to make a DMCA claim against them.
When Barstool representatives finally replied, they acknowledged they’d taken the image from the web service Giphy and used it without getting permission, Rubin told The Daily Beast.
“Their business is built on stealing other people’s IP,” The Daily Beast reported Rubin said of Barstool. “And that’s not a business; it’s like a criminal enterprise.”