Copyright Law Can Be Tricky At Live Events

6:45 PM, Feb 25, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Saturday's last-lap crash at a NASCAR race in Daytona Beach, Fla., did more than injure several dozen spectators.

It set off a debate about video ownership after a fan posted a video on YouTube of the aftermath in the grandstands following the crash. Within minutes of going viral, the video had disappeared. YouTube pulled it and cited a copyright claim from NASCAR.

That touched off an online firestorm, as people debated whether the fine print on a NASCAR ticket -- or any sporting event, live theater or concert, for that matter -- truly gave the organizer the right to decide what you can do with video and pictures you take there.

"Generally, you can be held to those terms and that (ticket) license is revocable," Greensboro intellectual property attorney Stephen Shaw said. "So you can be asked to leave an event if you violate the sort of societal norms that we normally see incorporated in attending a performance."

Shaw says the fine print gives many organizers a leg to stand on, and that getting kicked out and told not to come back is likely the toughest penalty most of us would face.

But Elon University School of Law assistant professor Enrique Armijo says simply claiming ownership over your pictures and video might not stand up in court.

"The copyright holder is the fan who takes the image or photo," he wrote. "In addition, the copyright law protects users that disseminate facts concerning news that is important and time-sensitive. That is very likely the case as to the NASCAR incident."

That's eventually the position YouTube took, and put the fan video back on. But even legal and media experts say the new age of social media makes the issue and the law a little harder to sort out.

WFMY News 2

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