What do China and the AFL have in common? If you thought it was a disdain for contested marks you are wrong. Well… to a degree anyway. 

No, the similarity between Beijing and AFL House appears to be their attitude toward online content. Or, more specifically, the existence of online content itself.

Google was only allowed into China after agreeing to police content in line with official government policy, and recently, Chinese authorities censored digital image site Flickr altogether.

And so to Australia’s most powerful sporting body, the AFL. Its most recent Orwellian overture was made to the Footy Chooser website. The saga unfolded on footy fans’ online mecca, BigFooty.com when a user posted a message on the website asking:

“Hey guys. There is a site that I’ve come across that lets you watch full match replays of just about any game in the recent years but I just can’t remember the website URL. Can someone help me out please?”

The message was posted at 4:41pm, 13 June 2007. By 1:30pm 14 June 2007, the site the message board user was referred to had been “temporarily removed” on request from the AFL Manager of Legal and Business Affairs.

The legal issues here are a little hazy. Footy Chooser did not actually broadcast any content owned by the AFL or its online broadcast partner Telstra. The website merely linked to the Telstra-owned content, allowing users who are not Bigpond customers to view the digital video. As such, it is unclear whether any intellectual property or exclusive broadcast rights were being infringed.

The AFL’s latest online jackbooting follows a similar cease-and-desist communique to Richmond fansite, PuntRoadEnd. Again, the AFL ordered video to be removed from the site, or else. According to The Age:

The AFL has threatened to sue the supporter behind the website for infringing the broadcast rights of its internet partner, Telstra.

Who’s next? YouTube has no shortage of Aussie Rules footage: I just had a chuckle watching Fraser Gehrig getting all Irish with Carlton’s Setanta O’hAilpin:  

If there’s a little bit of Homer Simpson in you, you might enjoy watching the sickening footage of Nathan Brown breaking his leg:

Demons fans can savour some highlights from Melbourne’s most recent victory over Collingwood:

Perhaps YouTube will be the next to have the AFL crosshairs trained upon it. That would be an interesting stoush — YouTube is owned by Beijing’s best buddy Google.