When a multi-car accident punctuated the end of a NASCAR race at Daytona on Saturday afternoon, fan-shot footage of the disintegrating cars, pieces of debris flying into the stands, and a tire landing between the bleacher seats quickly found its way to YouTube. Minutes later, the clip (that you see above) was removed by YouTube at the request of NASCAR, citing copyright concerns:
According to the Orlando Sentinel, at least 15 race fans were injured, with eight of them requiring hospitalization. None of the race car drivers were seriously injured in the crash. Update: According to Reuters, 14 fans were taken to the hospital and 14 were treated at the scene. Reuters added that one of the drivers was also injured.
Twitter lit up with a wave of conversations about the shocking accident, along with numerous pictures and videos of the event.
Twitter lit up with a wave of conversations about the shocking accident, along with numerous pictures and videos of the event. The #Daytona topic was trending on Twitter for the better part of an hour.
Meanwhile, just as quickly as that remarkable video clip was removed from YouTube, it started popping up elsewhere. First we saw it on LiveLeak, that site where lots of dramatic clips end up either with or without rights to do so. Then, it somehow found its way back onto YouTube, posted to fan accounts that neglected to mention anything about NASCAR.
When you buy a ticket to a NASCAR event (or just about any professional sports event, for that matter), NASCAR claims to control what sorts of media you can shoot and distribute. The NFL even claims that fans can't write about the game without permission. However, isn't it okay to record a few seconds of an event you're attending, and then post it as you see fit?
Apparently, NASCAR says no. Perhaps NASCAR is concerned about protecting its copyrights, especially since its 8-year, $4.8 billion TV contract with Fox/Speed Channel, ABC/ESPN, and TNT is up for renewal this year.
Update: NASCAR issued the following statement Saturday evening:
"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. 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."
Shortly after that, YouTube reinstated the video to its original place, and made this statement to The Washington Post:
"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."
Photo via Getty, Jerry Markland