There is a huge problem in this country, and it’s this: unauthorized use of copyrighted content in online videos. Every day there are millions of videos uploaded to YouTube that contain images and audio that someone else owns. It’s illegal, and some companies are going to great lengths to stop it. Like Major League Baseball–an entity that is notorious for tracking down and removing every single unauthorized MLB video they can find. And you can’t blame them, really… because illegal use of copyrighted material is the single biggest problem we’re facing as a country.
Which is, of course, a completely stupid thing for me to say. Especially when you consider the economy, the wars and military engagements, the healthcare problem, the jobless rate, and more. These are tough times for many Americans–and I don’t mean just those affected by tornadoes. As a nation, times are tough. Which is why we maybe needed something like President Obama’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.
We needed something we could celebrate about our nation–and we don’t have any upcoming royal weddings. But more than mere celebration, we needed a cathartic release. And the death of Bin Laden has provided it. All across the nation people took to the streets after the announcement in spontaneous celebrations at places like Ground Zero, Times Square, and outside the White House in Washington D.C.
But one moment is beginning to stand out from the rest as symbolic of how we, as a nation, reacted to this unexpected news. That moment came during a Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. Without any announcement being made, but only through the power of email, phone calls, text messages, and social media, the stadium in Philadelphia became suddenly charged with energy as fans began to hear and share the news that our nation’s biggest individual enemy had been defeated.
The result was a chant that had nothing to do with sports whatsoever, a chant of “USA, USA”:
That’s the short version. If you want to really capture the experience, you should watch the 8-minute version, where the television announcers point out how the players haven’t heard the news yet and therefore are confused as to why the crowd is chanting “USA, USA.”
Perhaps because of how iconic this moment of reaction has quickly become, Major League Baseball has broken with their long-running strict interpretation of copyright law. The league has decided not to remove all these clips of the chant, even though it is their right to do so, in order to preserve the historical importance of the event.
Well how do you like that? One of the most aggressive copyright holders in fighting unauthorized use can, indeed, be swayed to tolerate it… if the price is right. In this instance, patriotism won out over the copyright watchdogs, as it should have.
I’ll never look down on a company for protecting their intellectual property, even while I believe MLB would be better served letting unauthorized clips remain on YouTube and similar sites. It’s their right, and their property. But this week, they made the right decision when they chose not to pursue the takedown of these clips and allow YouTube to serve as a museum of sorts, capturing and preserving this unique moment in American history.