Fan video of NASCAR Nationwide wreck raises copyright questions

Jonathan Ferrey

NASCAR may have tried to block a fan video of Saturday's wreck under claims of copyright violation. An interesting wrinkle has been added to the shocking crash.

Saturday's unfortunate wreck in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway left dozens injured and -- in a twist that almost nobody saw coming -- led to an interesting debate regarding fan videos and copyright law. Shortly after the race concluded, a fan uploaded a video to YouTube that was filmed in the stands, just a few feet from where a tire landed.

T.C. Sottek from The Verge wrote about how the video was blocked by NASCAR on copyright grounds just minutes after it began making the rounds on social media. This led many to wonder why NASCAR would claim copyright infringement on this video, when there are hundreds, if not thousands of similar fan-made videos from NASCAR events on YouTube. The Verge received a statement from NASCAR regarding the situation shortly after posting their story:

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.

The same video was shown on CNN and was well within fair-use rights, as it would be considered factual news footage and thus protected. Later on Saturday, YouTube reversed the copyright claim and reinstated the video. The Washington Post posted a story containing the official statement from YouTube:

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.

It would be surprising if many more fan videos of the wreck did not begin to surface in coming days.

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