When Tyler Anderson posted shocking video detailing the violent aftermath that befell spectators as a result of Kyle Larson’s wreck on Saturday, NASCAR intentionally — but falsely — claimed copyright infringement which triggered the video being taken down by YouTube. The video was quickly replaced and, now, NASCAR admits it made the claim knowing no such copyright violation had occurred.
NASCAR Vice President of Digital Media Marc Jenkins today flat out admitted they used the insistence of a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) copyright violation to have the video removed — knowing full well no violation had been committed.
“This was never a copyright issue for us,” Jenkins said. “We blocked it out of respect for those injured. What we saw was that it appeared someone was injured by the tire and it was unclear at the time what the status of the fan was.”
That sounds all well and good, but it brings to bear a number of issues. While it’s true that incidents on a race track happen at high speed, should organizations like NASCAR be using their horsepower to deprive people of free speech on the internet? The cynical race fan might say that NASCAR took the video down to reduce their own liability in the event of future litigation.
And, this abuse of the DMCA (YouTube’s copyright infringement process takes down videos when a claim is placed, then that claim is reviewed or the party posting the video can protest the claim) also bleeds over into Fair Use and freedom of expression.
The DMCA is the United States copyright law that governs property rights on the internet.
The very fact that NASCAR admits it abused the YouTube copyright infringement policy taints the issue with dishonesty. Even so, NASCAR insists that fan videos are welcome — while also insisting they own the rights to those videos — unless they’re used commercially.
It’s a position that has more spin than a third turn pileup. NASCAR seems to have no problem with a position that says they didn’t do anything wrong in removing it, even though they abused a process to do so.
“We abused the DMCA for all the right reasons” seems to be logic. Tell that to Tyler Anderson. Tell that to NASCAR fans everywhere. And tell that to those who want transparency in the stands as well as online.
Certainly, video of injured fans in the stands after a wreck doesn’t help NASCAR’s brand. But neither does subverting the intent of the DMCA.
No word yet from YouTube, who NASCAR says they did not have discussions with before removal of the video.
Meanwhile, online, fans of fairness in online speech are putting the pedal to the metal to protest the action. An action that, as usual, features NASCAR going in circles very, very fast.