They are everywhere you look online: compressed image files, usually animated, of people or animals. Graphic Interchange Format (GIF), created to reduce file transfer time, has given rise to social media feeds full of cats riding burritos in space and ubiquitous iterations of the salmon cannon. And lots of athletes making plays. When Deadspin and SB Nation posted GIFs of NFL players on Twitter in October, the NFL sent DMCA notices and Twitter suspended the accounts for a while.
But did the GIFs really infringe a copyright? As with all new technologies and new art forms, the copyright issues are not clear cut. And how does the Fair Use doctrine come into play?