An Open Letter to the ASO

Jul 17 2009

(I tried contacting the directly ASO via their YouTube channel, but they refuse to accept messages from anyone they aren’t friends with. I sent this to them via email links on their homepage, but I do not expect a reply.)

Dear Sir or Madam,

I was very disappointed to read this morning that you filed a copyright infringement complaint against my video “2009 Tour de France – Stage 2 – How The Race Was Won (”

My use of short, discontinuous segments of footage for purely informational purposes, at no harm to you and no monetary benefit to myself, easily meets the standards for Fair Use under United States law (cf. Time Inc. v. Bernard Geis Associates, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.).

However, my disappointment stems not from legal concerns, but from the fact that you’ve chosen to take down a video that actively promoted an ASO event, making it more interesting and accessible for English-speaking audiences. The video I posted, as with my other cycling videos, was extremely highly rated—something which few of your uploads can boast.

While the English-dubbed interviews posted on your YouTube channel are informative, they do little to draw Anglophones into the Tour, or to develop appreciation of the split-second actions that draw the line between victory and defeat. In short, my videos add viewers to your events and value to your company.

Instead of removing my video, your organization should be enlisting my services for English-language video analysis of future ASO cycling events. Destroying the work of others who increase appreciation of your events is utterly illogical, and moreover, unfair to the English-speaking fans who have brought billions of dollars to your company over the past decade.


Cosmo Catalano

The video is still available here, and at some other places, and some of those other places will be extremely difficult for the ASO to muzzle. Personally, I take copyright fairly seriously—if only to pursue reasonable changes to copyright law through institutionally authorized means—and will comply with most removal requests.

Ideally, I’d like to file a Fair Use counterclaim, but it’s outside my budget right now; at any rate, decades of draconian enforcement have predictably created an agile and irrepressible distribution network online that has already begun carrying the work in question through no effort of my own.

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