If you're new to this a USATF club, Sisu, went to Club XC nationals for the first time. They made a youtube video of their trip. It showed them travelling there, in restaurants, on the course and racing (they finished in the back of the pack). Next thing they knew they got a takedown notice from USATF for their video on youtube. Essentially, USATF said they owned the rights to everything shot at the meet (the club reps do not remember signing anything or the entry they signed saying as much).
Regardless of the technicality of who owns the rights to footage of mid pack racing at Club Nationals (footage with almost no commercial value), it is bad policy to prevent USATF member clubs from promoting the sport.
After more grassroots rumbling, USATF CEO Max Siegel acted quickly and today said USATF would contact Youtube to reinstate the video. He wrote,
"USATF now realizes promotion of the sport by its clubs is a good thing even if it involves rights that USATF is still claiming to own."
A good decision to Max and a sign he is realizing he just can't deal with the business side of USATF. He is the face and CEO of the organization.
The letter does have a paragraph that I don't quite understand. Max writes, "After speaking with several individuals in the office, it appears that a full-length, high-quality video of the race had been posted and cooperatively removed after communication with our office. It was similar to coverage that we would provide on USATF.tv. There was also removed a shorter video of lower quality that was focused on the club. It was NOT (underlined in Max's letter) our intention to have that shorter video removed. Videos like this particular one, which are not commercial efforts and which seek to provide exposure to our dedicated rank-and-file, help the efforts of all of us in the sport."
I contacted Amanda Wright with Sisu and she has no idea what the full-length video referenced in the letter is. It wasn't her video. Anyone know?
According to Amanda Wright in her write-up of what happened to their club's video, Norman Wain, General Counsel to USATF, did admit to Amanda he didn't watch the video, but he did reiterate that USATF had the rights to it. A possible explanation is there was a longer video USATF wanted taken down, they got their legal people involved, legal tried to take everything down, and then the decision makers at USATF clarified they didn't want everything taken down.
It would be much better if our sport was in a position where a big concern of USATF's legal department wasn't fan videos of the club nationals. The NFL has much bigger concerns than trying to enforce a copyright of fan videos of the Superbowl on Youtube. If USATF really views club nationals as a big commercial opportunity we're in trouble. Flotrack and Runnerspace have shown there is a market for charging friends and relatives (and fans) to watch people they know run at invitationals but USATF hopefully has much bigger fish to worry about than mid pack fan videos at club nationals.