MLB Goes on a YouTube Video Deleting Rampage

No joke.

Last night, I got an email from reader "Peter" that said he just had a video removed from YouTube by MLB.  His video, a short clip from the final out of Roy Halladay's pefect game, contained about five seconds of actual game play footage.  It was a spoof on the NHL's "what if" playoff commercials.

A few moments after receiving Peter's email, I noticed that YouTube had sent me a few of my own. They removed eight videos that, when pooled together, included about 20 seconds of game play footage (they were mostly screenshots of fans, including guys in Nacho Libre masks).  

You mean to tell me Major League Baseball has nothing better to do then to troll YouTube for six month old videos of nonsense, quirky screen grabs?

Their stance on intellectual property is widely known.  They typically address the letter of the law, rather the spirit of it.  Remember the fans who had to remove the Phillies cap from their Phanatic flugtag?  Or the dozens of shirts that had to be removed from The Fightins and Zoo With Roy?  All thanks to the MLB copyright police.

We have no right to complain.  What they did is legal (mostly– there's something called Fair Use, but that's for another post). But the league is so backward in their thinking, that it's almost laughable.  The videos we had on YouTube were never highlight videos– they were quirky shots of fans and odd moments taken from CSN's broadcasts.  

When it comes to online video, the NHL is an example of a league that just gets it.  Instead of combing YouTube and other video sites, the NHL allows fans and bloggers to embed videos right on their site.  In case you haven't noticed, most of our Flyers highlights are taken directly from  They encourage it.  Why?  Because it raises awareness for their product and is sometimes laced with an ad.  Many news outlets do this too.  People can use their videos, so long as they watch a :30 second ad prior to it.  A fair trade-off.

Instead of Major League Baseball following suit and serving us hundreds of Taco Bell ads (a practice they could profit from and garner goodwill with), they force us to go rogue and covertly post them on sites less popular than YouTube.  They want everyone to go's clunky interface to watch their videos.  Fail.

Well here's to you, MLB copyright person, Peter's video in-full after the jump.


63 Responses

  1. They have always done this kind of thing. It’s just stupid. All it does is cut down on the positive exposure of their product & alienate fans.
    There was a really cool fan video after the 2008 WS called “collective breath” or something like that. It was really well done & spliced shots of fans’ actual reactions with the last pitch. And now it’s gone.

  2. I have emailed MLB about this very issue and didn’t get a single response. Here’s the email I sent them:
    Right now, MLB is getting rightfully skewered for the latest needlessly backwards multimedia policy ( This time it’s Twitter, but it general, it includes the banning of any fan-created multimedia content from appearing online, in the form of video clips on YouTube or similar sites.
    What’s mind-boggling is that MLB is that last sport that should have this sort of policy. The other 3 leagues have extensively cataloged histories of their sport and it was done largely by the fans themselves. You can see the evidence on YouTube and the contrast is stark. No noteworthy MLB content to speak of. For America’s past time, that is an absolute travesty.
    A sport with a noticeable demographic issues (aging fan base, less and less American minorities) should be doing the exact opposite. Imagine if a young child could get on Youtube and see a fan-created highlight reel of the best Roberto Alomar fielding plays. Highlights of Kerry Wood’s 20 K game. Torii Hunter’s acrobatics. Home run derbies. The great playoff moments of the past. Whatever. MLB is cutting its customers off from accessing the game’s rich history, possibly the richest of any major sport. Baseball’s youngest viewers have no frame of reference for the game’s history, it’s past characters, ballparks, commentators, and all the other things that make baseball truly an American sport. And baseball’s long-time fans have no way of sharing that history with the younger generation.
    No other major sports league has anything close to as restrictive of a multimedia policy. The NBA has been at the forefront of embracing new media and they recognize the value of the free advertising that comes with allowing creative fans to express their love of the game online. Likewise, the NFL, NHL, European football leagues, international cricket, whatever the sport is, it has a thriving library of it’s past online. Outsourcing the marketing of the game should be a complete no-brainer and whether the content is positive or negative, MLB should be completely open to it. You can’t pretend to engineer fan perception.
    As for the legality, I don’t presume to know the details but I highly doubt it’s out of MLB’s control or that it effects MLB’s finances in any significant way. As I said, every other league has an open or at least very lax policy regarding fan content online. No contractual obligations with TV deals seem to have got in the way with them and I don’t see how it should be baseball.
    MLB has been proactive and progressive regarding its excellent package, the MLB network, providing game data to statistical analysts, and yet it’s mind-boggling how far behind it is on something as simple as the free marketing that comes from fans expressing their love of the game. Technically, MLB has even made it illegal to “share accounts of the game”. What does the league gain from this? That is not a rhetorical question. I would really like to know how protecting MLB content benefits the league in any way.
    I would like to provide some unsolicited advice: Hold a vast campaign to get fans of all ages back in love with the game. As part of this campaign, MLB can encourage fans to dust off their VHS tapes and put their memories online. It can allow video clips to be shared by fans online so they don’t have to visit to see only videos the league decides to provide. It can allow writers to tweet their personal opinion on their feeds. It can continue to support the statistical community in it’s efforts to teach hardcore, casual, and new fans about the game. Allow franchise to market their teams using every possible avenue. It’s just a no-brainer and it’s time baseball shed it’s myopic and backwards multimedia policies.

  3. i wouldnt mind it so much if mlb had a good amount of video on their site. every time i am looking for a specific play of historical significance, they dont have it (or it is so buried and impossible to find)

  4. sam- exactly! their video page, while very deep, is impossible to navigate and the player itself is crap. they do such a good job with their mlb tv, cataloging, apps, and website, that the only thing they are missing is allowing their content to be spread.

  5. Great post, George, but you are trying to reason with idiots, as they have by their actions so thoroughly proven.

  6. Peter’s video is clearly a fair use application of the clip (parody). He should go through the proper avenues with YouTube to get it restored. YouTube is all too quick to remove items (without verifying validity of that claim) when an organization claims copyright infringement.
    I assume there is some entry-level employee or intern issuing these takedown notices from MLB because they have no knowledge of copyright law. That or their boss demanding this doesn’t care about creative protection laws.
    (I know this isn’t the crux of the argument, but it is just as, if not more, important)

  7. Sort of related to this, 1210AM also blocks their live broadcasts on the web, which I don’t understand. It’s a broadcast that is on the free airwaves. I was on vacation at the Jersey shore in a house with no cable TV. So I wanted to listen to the radio broadcast without static over the web on 1210AM’s site. And instead it was just a re-broadcast of one of their talk shows airing on the web.

  8. I think the MLB is indeed absurd with how they conduct themselves in the manner, but, as was said, they are fully allowed to do so. For as bad as the MLB is about this though, the NFL is probably 100 times worse. EVERYTHING in the NFL is strictly regulated and centralized. It’s bad.
    John E, they do that because they want you to buy or At Bat. It doesn’t have to do with being freely available in the area, it has to do with how the content is being distributed. Unless they matched your IP address to your locale, which can be done, anyone anywhere can access internet streams. They probably block it so they can better monetize their out-of-market content delivery.

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