After we published the letter sent to USATF association presidents last night we got our hands on a copy of the letter that USATF CEO Max Siegel sent directly to the Sisu Project team. Here’s the letter in its entirety:
I have so many problems with this response that I don’t think I have enough time to address them all right now.
One comment that I read online said something along the lines that it was completely ridiculous that the highest level of USATF had to address this when an intern could’ve rectified the situation in ten minutes. I could not agree more. Now if I can find that comment again I’d give the author credit…
As far as the overall message to this letter, I read it as ‘we’ll let you have this one but we’ll still pull down indiscriminately because we own your footage’. Be ready to put up a fight.
Amanda Wright of Sisu has repeatedly requested a copy of their media policy that explains all of this and her request has been ignored.
Very hard to believe that the lawyers and the staff responsible for this weren’t acting upon direct orders. If not, then the USATF is as dumb as a sack of rocks for not being aware of the existence and impact of videos like this on the club level. We live in a digital age where pictures and videos of lived experiences can be uploaded immediately. Going beyond the usual social media video clips, there’s even a YouTube Capture app on smartphones that makes it easier to instantly upload your longer videos. Instead of embracing that they’ll fight it with their outdated point of view.
How does he define ‘commercial effort’? I mean, technically Level Renner is a commercial effort because some revenue is brought in, but first and foremost we are a grassroots entity. We provide additional coverage of the clubs that USATF will ignore in their coverage of all meets, from local to national. Just thinking that USATF will claim ownership of original footage and material that we’ve produced, as I sit here hurriedly typing in a coffee shop before I have to go on to my actual job, is enough to make me not want to produce anything that covers any USATF events. Siegel could’ve just apologized and promised to reinstate the video, instead he goes out of his way to remind us that they own our footage, footage of ourselves that they ultimately don’t care about. Not cool, Max. Not cool.
Another comment posted on our Facebook wall: Interesting how they referenced the “full length high quality” video. Did anyone hear anything about that one? Real? Smokescreen? And even if real, with the lack of publicity of such an event, would publishing of that video have helped or harmed the cause? Seriously, I’ve been to two nationals, and both times, the local people in town had no idea what was going on in their backyards.
Two real good points there. First, we don’t doubt that they removed other videos, although he seems to be purposely understating the amount of footage that was taken down. Secondly, the lack of publicity and exposure speaks to our last point about commercial efforts vs grassroots exposure. People providing this coverage are filling a gap. There’s nothing there to document their efforts. Seems like USATF’s approach is ‘we own the footage and we don’t want to show footage of you running so no one gets to see what you did’.
We’ll see if they actually come up with some sort of policy that encourages and promotes this grassroots coverage. But since they couldn’t even send along a copy of their existing media policy you’ll have to excuse us for not holding our collective breath over here.
To catch up on all of this: