Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kicking football footage off the air

You know what makes me steaming mad? Every time a video gets removed from YouTube. Especially when that video involves the Saints.

Yeah, I know...I've complained about this before. Probably more than once. But it's something that never fails to renew anger in me each time it happens. It's not that I don't agree with copyright laws or the idea of intellectual property--obviously, as a writer, I do--but sometimes they take it too far.

Russell Zimmerman is an avid Saints fan and amateur filmmaker. He has made three of my favorite videos of the year: the imaginatively titled "SAINTS vs. COWBOYS," "SAINTS vs. GIANTS" and "SAINTS vs. EAGLES." Zimmerman's videos are brilliant cuts of Saints plays set to various adrenaline-fueled songs. I watched them several times each day, never failing to smile each time. In fact, just yesterday I signed up to YouTube just to tell Zimmerman how much I enjoyed his work. I always felt through his short takes like I was a real football fan. That's good, right?

But all three videos, among many others, have been taken off in the last 12 hours, due to an apparent complaint from the NFL about use of footage. In PR terms, that has to rank right up there with New Coke or Herb.

I fail to understand how these videos in any way damage the NFL or its bottom line. First off, the videos are free and no one likely makes any profit from them. Second, spectators tape game footage themselves all the time, and as far as I know that isn't illegal. Third, where would this censorship stop? Can fans no longer use team logos in pictures and other types of videos? Will fan tributes require generic uniforms like athletes wear in unlicensed endorsements?

Fan videos actually do the NFL a favor by enhancing the football experience; watching these tributes often compels me to go to the NFL's official site and watch the higher-quality (albeit limited) footage they offer. In any case, these types of remixes are available nowhere else. I never in my life thought that fan expression was a bad thing. I suppose the only footage we'll be seeing from now on is whatever the NFL and ESPN deign to let us see. What's next, an "excessive celebration" penalty against fans?

Again, the problem isn't that the NFL is trying to protect its property and its interests; the problem is the ridiculous extremes taken in doing so. Watching fan videos doesn't keep me from purchasing official league product; corporate obsession with censoring said videos, on the other hand, just might. This goes beyond sports. Check out my CD collection sometime, and see how many of them carry that huge, scary-looking anti-piracy warning. Not many. It's no coincidence that most of my CDs predate the Napster crackdown, because once I saw the degree of zest to which the RIAA chased down 12-year-old girls, I never wanted to even listen to music again. It's called, "voting with your pocketbook." Is a few cents in theoretical royalties worth the stifling of free speech that we're now seeing?

At least let us Saints fans know how to celebrate properly. Apparently there's a sanctioned way to do it.


Hillary For President said...

I ca'nt under stand why a good librail blogger like you is talking football american. WE HAVE A LADY HILLARY CLINTON TO SELECT FOR PRESIDENT. GET ON BORED.

Fact is foot ball american is for NEOCONS. Who care? Not a librail.

NEOCONS are runeing american. We need to get them OUT OUT OUT OUT!

Join the mission to select hillary clinton for president and forget about football american.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, dude. Did somebody drop your state's education system on its head? Oh, wait. I see you are from Massachusetts. That explains a lot.

Ian - I would think that your described use of the clips would fall under the Fair Use doctrine. IANAL, however.



Ian McGibboney said...

Nathan, pay no mind to HFP. His entire profile is a bad caricature of liberal stereotypes, and his idea of a funny joke is to make stupid assumptions with atrocious grammar to make Democrats look bad. He's very committed to this unfunny one-note joke, though his earliest blog entries show that he is, in fact, capable of coherent thought.

As for the footage: fair use, indeed. I'm still ticked-off about it. Though it's quite amusing to think of footage of guys smashing into each other as "intellectual property."