On Saturday, at the end of the Nationwide Series Drive4COPD 300 in Daytona, a horrific crash sent debris flying into the stands and two dozen spectators were treated for injuries as a result.
A fan in attendance posted a video of the crash to YouTube that instantly went viral (as of now it has over 600,000 views). From the fan's perspective, the crash is horrifying:
NASCAR, however, was not happy about this video and contacted YouTube to take it down. YouTube complied, but then reinstated the video when it was clear that copyright laws from the fan video were not being violated.
This is all very confusing. NASCAR posted its own video of the crash – a fancy, professional, video taken from far out of harm's way, but insisted the fan video be taken down. And the statement pertaining to why they asked for the video to be blocked had nothing to do with copyright, but that was the given reason when the video was blocked. Before the fan video was reinstated, the message on the video was this: “This video contains content from NASCAR, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”
Here was NASCAR's statement on the matter:
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.—Steve Phelps, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
The real issue here has nothing to do with copyright. Fans in attendance should have the right to take video and post it. If they film video on their owned recording device, the video is theirs, not NASCAR's, especially when most of this footage isn't of the actual race, but the aftermath in the stands. More than likely, NASCAR was trying to protect its image from the troubling scenes and wanted the fan video taken down.
Tyler Anderson, the fan who shot the video, was interviewed on SportsCenter and even said, "the screams is what got me. That was the worst part."
If NASCAR can choose to have people remember the event via a professional video that shows nothing out of the ordinary, why would it make any sense to try and block a fan video that shows the same crash from a different angle? Sports leagues (especially MLB) have been criticized for aggressively pulling videos from YouTube, but this is a rare case when the video sharing site has actually restored one of those clips.
Perhaps the one positive that can be taken from all of this is that NASCAR will need to take a serious look at fan safety on the rare occasion an accident like this happens. Thankfully, no one was killed in this incident, but seeing the footage of Anderson's video will definitely leave an impact. Thankfully, YouTube overruled NASCAR and allowed the raw footage from the fans' perspective to stand amidst NASCAR's desire to have it suppressed.