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24 Hour Party People

Many in the racing community were disheartened to learn of the removal of partymanners‘ well-curated collection of racing videos from YouTube, and there has been some thoughtful commentary from the R2 Collective and Ed DeRosa (among others). Having weighed in on the value partymanners adds to the racing world last year, it only seems right to address the issue again.

While it’s not my place to delve into the full details, rest assured that no track or broadcaster complained or claimed copyright (although they would have been well within their rights to do so – clearly, they realized it was more helpful than anything else to have the videos out there) – the backstory is rather more petty and unfortunate, and you are welcome to follow the links and make your own decisions about that.

The current situation emphasizes the danger of relying solely on fan-created content: while there are a few other racing-related YouTube channels, partymanners’ was by far the most extensive, and its loss is more deeply-felt as a result. In an ideal situation where an online archive were funded by some sort of industry program, there would be backups and alternate servers, along with full legal clearances. High-quality digital video would exist for more recent races, and older films would be restored, digitized and placed on a fully-searchable site using a simple solution like YouTube or Vimeo to deliver the videos.

But we live in the real world; there is no industry body with the will or ability to deliver the kind of professional solution this would actually demand – it would be expensive and very time-consuming to do it the ‘right way’ – and given that there are clearly people out there with the skills and time to do it on the fly, there is no reason to discourage those efforts (even if certain individuals seem keen to try to torpedo them for their own ends).

So, what’s the next step? The immediate answer would be to create redundancy: ensuring that multiple copies of the videos exist somewhere (and can easily be found via a simple web search) would be the first goal. It’s possible that YouTube may re-activate the partymanners account – if, indeed, that happens, a group effort to back up and re-distribute the videos (ideally via a number of different sites) would not be a bad thing.

But to avoid such derailments in future, the videos could at the very least be cleared with their (actual) copyright holders, and that is where it would be nice to get at least a little help from the industry. Editing, hosting and tagging the videos can easily be handled by fans, but if the tracks, broadcasters and the NTRA could come together to craft some sort of blanket fair use statement for racing footage (which should not be necessary, but is a handy thing to have when these roadblocks come up), that would put things on a firmer footing. A suggested Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video is already out there – it’s a quick and easy read – and it’s not as though anyone is going to become rich by offering someone a chance to see allowance races from the 1980s.

Let’s get the party re-started.

2 comments to 24 Hour Party People

  • Keith - Triple Dead Heat

    Well said. I just posted on this popular topic myself…

    I believe that FREE video and statistics are a necessary part of promoting the sport.

    Hopefully this gets sorted out sooner than later.

  • Fran Jurga

    I am devastated by this news and my blog is full of black boxes where Partymanners videos used to be! I don't have HRTV and I used to wait and watch the races "live" when PM posted the videos on YouTube. This is so distressing…Can't we DO something?

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