During the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, a multi-car crash sent Kyle Larson’s car airborne and into the catch fence. The crash on the eve of NASCAR’s biggest race of the year, The Daytona 500, sent 14 fans to the hospital after a tire and car engine were among the debris that flew into the crowd. A video shot by Jacksonville-area high school sophomore Tyler Andersen shows a wheel lying in the seats and people helping injured individuals nearby. It was later removed from YouTube, because it contained “content from NASCAR, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”
However, a statement later in the evening from NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps made no mention of the copyright issue. “The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident,” Phelps said. “Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.”
In the fine print on its tickets, NASCAR asserts that it owns everything fans and attendees produce while at its events. But copyrights automatically begin at the moment works are created. In this case, the copyright was established when the individual filmed the scene, and NASCAR would only have been able to enforce the copyright if it had actually registered the footage with the US Copyright Office.
Some observers were initially troubled that Google honored the copyright request, with the technology blog Techdirt accusing NASCAR of abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown process. If TV networks see clips of their shows being uploaded without their permission, the takedown request is a form they submit to have the material removed. The DMCA only gives services like YouTube immunity from copyright infringement charges if the company acts quickly when it receives a takedown notice.
YouTube ultimately restored the video and said in a statement, “Our partners and users do not have the right to take down videos from YouTube unless they contain content which is copyright infringing, which is why we have reinstated the videos.”
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