The independent blog on spectrum policy issues
that welcomes your input on the key policy issues of the day.

Our focus is the relationship between spectrum policy
and technical innnovation.

A net neutrality free zone: We pledge no mention of any net neutrality issues before 2018.

When they deserve it, we don't hesitate to criticize either NAB, CTIA or FCC.

NBC, Olympic Opening Ceremony, and DMCA

The part of the Olympic Opening Ceremony missing from
NBC’s coverage and apparently deleted from YouTube posts by NBC

On July 27 at 10:55 PM, just after the Olympic Opening ceremony, the antiestablishment blog Deadspin posted this surprising item: “Here’s The Opening Ceremony Tribute To Terrorism Victims NBC Doesn’t Want You To See”.

The major transitional element of today's London Olympics opening ceremony was a downtempo performance of adoptive sporting anthem "Abide With Me" by Scottish singer Emeli Sandé. The song and accompanying dance were a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks in London that claimed 52 victims days after the 2012 Summer Olympic hosts were named. (It's also been suggested the performance was a memorial to the war dead.)

Regardless, it was a rather significant and emotional moment in the opening ceremony, coming just before the parade of nations—and it wasn't aired in the United States. Instead, viewers were treated to a lengthy and meaningless Ryan Seacrest interview of Michael Phelps. NBC regularly excises small portions of the opening ceremony to make room for commercials, but we've never heard of them censoring out an entire performance—especially to air an inane interview. We've asked NBC why they didn't air the tribute, and if they get back to us we'll let you know what they say. In the meantime, enjoy the performance everyone else in the world saw.

Several mainstream news sources picked up the news. For example, Time titled its article on the action “NBC’s Unkind Olympic Cut”. We will not quibble over NBC’s editorial judgement to prefer a Michael Phelps interview over this part of the opening ceremony, after all NBC paid billions for the rights to cover the Olympics. But I was curious about the missing segment and assumed I would find it on YouTube. There are indications on YouTube that people tried to post the version that was broadcast outside the US. No further explanation from YouTube. However, Bing quickly found the video. As of this posting it is available at 2 UK-based websites: Liveleak.com site shown at the bottom of this post and on the Deadspin.com.

I suspect that the issue here is the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This provision allows copyright owners to demand that sites like YouTube remove copyrighter material - a very reasonable provision. But what about the case when the copyright holder has not interest in making the material available on any terms? When I studied patents in a course ages ago I was interested to learn that US patents grant the owned all rights over an invention and no one can use not without their permission. By contrast, most other countries at the time allowed use by other parties with fair compensation. US copyright holders apparently also have the right to deny the public access to information under any terms. I doubt if this is what the Founding Fathers meant in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. In this case NBC seems to be trying as hard as possible to keep Americans from seeing this innocuous 7 minutes of video as it is also missing from the voluminous NBC Olympics website.


Emeli Sandé was also in the Olympics closing ceremony and NBC did not cut her out the second time so Americans got to see and hear this wonderful performer.

blog comments powered by Disqus