The NFL is forcing a fan’s cherished YouTube channel to shut down for good. Here’s why it’s a shame for Steelers fans and football fans alike.
“There are 27 teams in pro football. And then, there are the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Forty years later, and with four more teams in the National Football League, the words John Facenda spoke right before the opening credits to the 1979 Steelers highlight film, A Cut Above, still resonate with Steelers fans.
But it is unlikely the words would have resonated the way they have without Keith Mansfield’s “Espionage” playing underneath the line.
The reason the name and composer of the song are readily known is because of a YouTube channel created by Dave Volsky, who for the last six years has painstakingly created a source where fans can identify and listen to their favorite NFL Films music.
But instead of having a narrator talking over the piece, the songs can be heard in all of their instrumental glory, usually with a picture or video of the highlight you’re watching.
What makes the channel so unique is it is so easy to identify the song because he groups them with favorite NFL Films, say one of the Super Bowl highlights, or a team highlight film such as “A Cut Above.”
So if you want to listen to the majestic piece of music played at the end of the Super Bowl XIV highlight film as Facenda tells us “The Rams won respect, but the Pittsburgh Steelers won another World Championship,” you’d find Sam Spence’s “The Greatest Adventure.” under Volsky’s great filing system and even see the video of Franco Harris scoring the clinching touchdown of the game.
Unfortunately, after six years, the National Football League is claiming copyright violation.
So this incredible resource of information, entertainment, and dare we say NFL marketing, which has been viewed and listened to approximately 16 million times by football fans, will be taken down Monday, May 18 at 8 p.m. ET.
“The NFL is vigilant in enforcing its intellectual property rights, including with respect to the unauthorized use of game footage. music, trademarks, and other intellectual property. The content you have posted on your YouTube channel includes extensive unauthorized use of NFL game footage and NFL-owned music, even though you do not have permission to copy, distribute, perform, re-post, or otherwise display any NFL-owned game footage or music. Accordingly, such unauthorized uses constitute copyright infringement (17 U.S.C. $ 501),” came a message to Volsky, who was facing suspension from YouTube for copyright violations.
Still, what constitutes “NFL owned music?” Certainly, the National Football League does not own Tchaikovsky’s “Marche Slave,” a part not only of Volsky’s channel but the NFL Films music library.
Is identifying this music in the context of a historic football film copyright violation or merely an identification that will only create interest for both the song and the film, thus inspiring sales? At what point does a still picture or even video of historic football action no longer become “NFL Property” and instead is part of the public domain?
Furthermore, Volsky claims he has never made a cent off his creations. The only one profiting from his channel is the National Football League, who receives free publicity from Volsky with a resource any fan whoever sent away for the NFL Films music albums or watches the Super Bowl Highlight Film marathon every January always wanted.
In addition to preserving and identifying music, Volsky has restored historic games and highlight films, including Super Bowl IV, which prior to his efforts had only been preserved on a grainy, black and white kinescope.
He claims an administrator in the music department of NFL Films reached out to him stating Volsky’s channel was “an extremely valuable resource and would be upset if your site was taken down.”
If ever there was someone the NFL should give authorized use of their music and images to, it is Volsky.
Unfortunately, though Volsky says he is not destroying his work, he feels he cannot fight City Hall or the NFL as it were, and therefore a valuable and cherished resource with more than 8,500 subscribers will be lost.
The question here is WHY the NFL feels this harms their brand and does not celebrate it. It is a question deserving of an answer.