My step son is of Caribbean decent, but having grown up largely in North America he has little or no interest in the sport of Cricket. Therefore, I decided one Sunday afternoon to show the little man the greatness of the likes of Gary Sobers by quickly pulling up the famous six-6's clip on YouTube. To my shock and dismay the video could no longer be found and the account which uploaded the video shut down due to Copyright infringement.
Where does one living in a quiet corner of Canada, or any non-cricket playing nation for that matter, go to watch such a rare moment? Should such a rare moment have been removed and a YouTube account shut down for an insignificant three-minute T20 video from the IPL, or 30 runs scored by Sachin during an ICC tournament?
Has cricket done enough to archive great moments such as this even for historic value?
ESPNSTAR – now the media partner for the ICC – is in the process of systematically removing cricket videos from YouTube. All clips from ICC-related events and matches telecast by ESPNSTAR are being removed for Copyright infringement. Die-hard cricket fans, who keep these networks in business, are being branded as criminals.
It is imperative for these networks to identify the primary reason behind these uploads instead of branding a large part of their own audience as criminals.
A Cable/Satellite TV subscriber has a video of their favourite cricket moment or favourite player uploaded to their own YouTube account for the same reason a fans goes out and purchases a poster of their favourite player, a back pack or even a T-Shirt. As a fan you would not want to visit ESPN or any other website to catch a glimpse of your favourite player? Instead you want the poster/image to be hanging on YOUR wall.
I must emphasises at this point that I understand where broadcasters and rights holders are coming from, but thus far there have only been three entities in cricket history who have filed copyright infringement claims against the fans of the sport: ESPNSTAR, ICC and the Indian Premier League. The uploaded videos are not being passed off as the uploader's own work. On the contrary, it is clear to all that the videos are indeed owned by the broadcaster. The purpose of a 10 minute YouTube video of a 8-hour long event is for review, comment and criticism. Most importantly, they serve as a free historic archive and promote the sport to a wider audience. These videos are uploaded with no financial consideration and as result should fall under the 'fair-use' clause of Copyright law.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered "fair," such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.*
* Youtube and other social media video hosting sites offer more than just the ability to view these videos - user groups, communities and discussions that take place due to these videos and other videos of varied subjects and cannot be replicated by a broadcaster who owns rights to only certain footage, as a result it would be a grossly exaggerated view to conclude that these videos are a cause of loss of revenue-as the right holders cannot amass the same diverse audience Youtube draws.
Why have other broadcasters not taken the same route?
It is financially not a smart move - with over a billion viewers worldwide of which a large percentage own a computer, a broadband Internet connection and a Youtube account the broadcaster is looking at an uphill battle - for what cost and subsequently what outcome?
The positives of such actions are few and far between.
Digital copyright laws will eventually adapt and change to modern day demands but what damage have we already done?
During the 2007 Cricket World Cup YouTube took cricket to households in Texas, Norway, Finland and to countless other viewers who had no interest in the sport. The videos did not provide a substitute in any way to watching the games live, but viewers caught a glimpse of Cricket due to the YouTube video's high placement rank in search results. The ICC, which claims to be working tirelessly to spread the game far and wide, have successfully cut out a free means of spreading cricket.
We, the fans of the sport, ask the ESPNSTAR representatives to speak to us. Come up with a suitable alternative instead of branding everyone a criminal. In their quest to monetize and commercialise everything, broadcasters are lashing out at their own customers in the most cruel manner possible. It is a customer relations and PR catastrophe just waiting to happen.
In the United States, cricket telecasts are run by an unfair monopoly with fans requiring multiple subscriptions to competing service providers in order to watch cricket. That too, at exorbitant prices. With the economy standing where it is at the moment, it is impossible to ask many families earning modest wages to dish out $60 to watch a series. Cricket can never flourish in a nation where only the social upper class can afford to watch it.
Articles of interest:
Cricinfo - ICC targets YouTube World Cup clips
Cricinfo - Once more cricket shoots itself in the foot
ICC Demand YouTube Videos Removal
Cricket videos on Youtube
World Cup videos banned from YouTube