Monday, May 17, 2010

Grand Tour Racing Footage Disappearing From Youtube

Internet sites like Youtube has become a popular avenue for decentralized distribution of media content, whether it is a music video, a film trailer, a clip from a recent concert or why, even footage from cycling races. The embed function effectively pollinates such content throughout the world wide web in a matter of seconds!

But along with that comes bearing the responsibility of the fact that you could be reproducing unlicensed content, hence violating someone's rights to distributing that material.

For sometime now, Youtube account holders like "World Cycling Archives" and some others have been giving the rest of us the day to day highlights from big Pro Tour races. As viewers, we hold news and entertainment first, and hardly care about how these videos are sourced.

To be honest, these videos thrill me as much as it may thrill you. Racing footage such as those from the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia propel forward the sport to a far greater audience. Besides, which television channel gives you 10 minutes worth of cycling footage without advertisements and other hoopla, or even cares to broadcast racing action from around the world more frequently?

But posting 10 mins worth of a 6 hour race is not considered innocent. The speed with which our unseen heroes post these videos on Youtube is exactly counterbalanced by the media raid from ASO, Eurosport and Rai TV who want the rights to their content respected.

Consider the case of the account holder "World Cycling Archives" who has been amassing an impressive collection of clips from all kinds of races; right from the ones you can pronounce to the ones which will get your mouth tired and tongue tied. The channel is often in the top 50 list for "Most Viewed This Month" and "Most Viewed This Week". This directly tells one about the popularity that cycling in competition form is gaining on the internet.

But this account is not new to receiving claims from media companies and has even been banned twice in the past. The funny thing is that iterations of the channel keep popping back up with fresh content.

For those of us who were enjoying his clips from the exciting Giro d'Italia, the timing couldn't be worse though. The account holder received a claim from Rai TV this morning, that prevents him from continuing to do uploads from the race.

That leaves one more claim to go before it is shut down, as another similar claim was thrown in by Eurosport/TF1. The account admin told me : "It seems to be impossible to bring videos from the big events (the 3 grand tours): we are claimed for the fourth time in a row on a big event. This means that as we are going on, eventually the channel will be shut down - as it has been twice before. Of course, we know the game by now. We'll see what the future will bring."

I'm a media ignoramus so this essentially provokes me to ask you readers how much these companies "lose" in terms of revenue due to unauthorized distribution. Is it such a substantial figure that that they cannot allow a mere 10 minutes worth of footage to go online? You would think that popularization gets the better of such losses over time.

Do you consider Youtube race clips as entertainment or an annoying scourge that has to be stopped? Please discuss below you thoughts and opinions.

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