Motorcycle Racing vs Social Media: How Dorna Could Turn Losing The Battle Into Winning The War

When the news that Dorna would be taking over World Superbikes broke, there was a wave of outrage among fans, expressing the fear that the Spanish company would set about destroying the series they had grown to love. So far, Dorna have been careful not to get involved in debates about the technical regulations which seem to be so close to fans' hearts, their only criteria so far appearing to be a demand that bikes should cost 250,000 euros for an entire season. Yet they have already make one move which has a serious negative impact on the series: they are clamping down on video footage from inside the paddock.

There was some consternation - and there is still some confusion - about the situation at the first round of WSBK at Phillip Island at the end of February. Where previously, teams and journalists had been free to shoot various videos inside the paddock, there were mixed signals coming from Dorna management, with some people told there was an outright and immediate ban, with threats of serious consequences should it be ignored, while others were saying that they had heard nothing on the subject. That Dorna is determined to reduce the amount of free material on Youtube became immediately clear after the race weekend was over: in previous years, brief, two-minute race summaries would appear on the official World Superbike Youtube channel after every weekend. After the first race of 2013, only the post-race interviews were posted on the site. It is a long-standing Dorna policy to try to strictly control what ends up on Youtube and what doesn't. It is their most serious mistake, and one which could end up badly damaging the sport unless it is changed very soon.

This is a battle that has been going on inside Dorna, and many other major companies involved in motorcycle racing. It is about a fundamental change in the media landscape, a shift away from centralized control towards a diffuse and distributed form of media broadcasting, communication strategy and promotion. It is a shift that is permanent, affects the way in which sports are promoted and monetized, and radically alters the balance of power throughout all levels of the sport. The old hierarchies are dead, and trying to maintain them will merely end up crippling motorcycle racing.

At the core of the argument is Dorna's business model. Dorna's three main sources of income are from the sale of TV rights, sanctioning fees from circuits for the right to organize a Grand Prix, and the sale of event sponsorship and advertising signage at races. The sale of TV rights has been the foundation on which Dorna's business was built, with exclusive agreements with various national broadcasters forming the bulk of their TV income. Most of that income came from MotoGP's core countries: the original deal with Spanish broadcaster TVE is believed to have been worth 20 million euros a year, though the switch to Telecinco has seen that amount drop; Italian broadcaster Sky is believed to pay a similar amount; while the BBC is thought to pay somewhere between 2 and 4 million euros per year for the privilege. A lot of money is involved.

Naturally, Dorna want to protect that investment. The contracts they sign now include clauses covering broadcast of MotoGP on the internet, with each broadcaster securing exclusive rights to show the races online - with an exception for the content behind Dorna's paywall, of course - in their geographic area. (Most broadcasters use some kind of geographic IP location system to decide whether you should be allowed to view the content on their website, but this is trivial to circumvent using a proxy. So trivial, there are even instructions on websites such as Lifehacker.) As part of their deal, they police Youtube extremely aggressively, ensuring any parts of the races posted are taken down, usually within a few minutes, using the tools provide for copyright infringement by Google, Youtube's owners. This, also, can be circumvented, as the many clips of NFL games, recorded from a TV using a video camera or phone clearly shows.

The trouble is Dorna are fighting a losing battle, and the way they are fighting it means they are losing out twice. Takedown notices can be efficient at eradicating content, but it has to be done immediately. If an epic moment of racing - say, the last lap at Brno in 2012 between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, the last lap at Barcelona in 2009 between Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, or perhaps Marc Marquez' first lap at Motegi - is up on Youtube for more than 10 minutes, it goes viral, posted by fans on forums, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and whatever may follow in their footsteps. If it is then taken down twenty minutes later, all most people will see is the message from the person who posted the clip, relaying how thrilling it was, and instead of the video, a message from Youtube saying the clip has been removed due to a copyright violation.

This damages Dorna in several ways: firstly, by forcing Dorna to put a lot of effort into content enforcement. Secondly, by making Dorna look bad in the eyes of everyone who sees the original message, and is excited at the prospect of what their friends have shared only to be disappointed by the takedown notice. These, I might add, are unlikely to be people who will sign up for MotoGP.com's video subscription - as excellent as that is - and go searching for the moment in question. Even worse, because of the speed with which content spreads through social networks and forums, and the asynchronous nature in which they are consumed, what goes viral is not the epic moment of racing, which may help to promote the sport, but the message that Dorna is a killjoy and is ruining the excitement, rather than trying to promote it. It is, in the very truest sense of the word, counterproductive.

That damage could so very easily be avoided. If Dorna posted the clips destined to go viral - a good TV director knows which those are, even as he watches them unfold before his eyes - on their own MotoGP Youtube channel, there would be little need for fans to tape and upload the fragments themselves. If Dorna did the sharing of their own accord, they would both have much better control of what is viewed and shared, and also, take away the need for the fan sharing they spend so much time cracking down on. People would rather share something already made for them, than go to the effort of creating and sharing themselves.

And the Youtube crackdown is not even particularly successful. Certainly, Youtube is the largest and most well-known of the video sharing sites, with over 800 million unique visitors a month. But a site like Dailymotion, though not quite as well-known as Youtube, still sees over 100 million visitors every month, and hosts plenty of Dorna-infringing material on its pages. Then there is Vimeo and a host of other websites containing torrents and video clips of uploaded material. Like Hydra, every time one of these sites is taken down, ten or more spring up to take its place.

Perhaps the most ironic part of the whole affair are the illegal live TV streams, showing streams of either the Dorna live coverage, or Spanish, Italian or British TV, as the races are shown. Walk through the media center during any MotoGP race, and you will see a large number of people watching the official MotoGP.com video stream, purchased (yes, we journalists have to pay for it too) legally via subscription, but you will also see plenty of people watching the same footage streamed illegally. These streams are relayed a range of websites hosted in countries with varying laws on copyright infringement, using peer-to-peer technologies. Walk through the media center on Saturday night, and the room is filled with journalists watching soccer games from their home countries via the very same technologies. These, ironically, are the same print journalists who will complain to you about how the internet is killing print publications.

Chasing down Youtube footage of races may be counterproductive, it is at least understandable. What is less understandable is the banning of self-recorded video from inside the paddock, and the posting of such material on Youtube. Once again, the culprit is TV contracts, strictly regulating the recording and broadcasting of material from inside the paddock. While the intent of the regulation is simply to prevent people coming into the paddock on their own and creating their own TV show without having purchased rights from Dorna, the impact it is having is much greater than Dorna ever considered. They took the measure to protect the series financially, but in the next few years, it will probably end up costing them more than it generates in TV income.

For the simple fact is that Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become a key part of the media communication strategy of a modern motorcycle racing team. Where once upon a time, the role of a press officer was to arrange interviews with TV, newspapers and magazines, sort photos and write and send out press releases, today, they handle media exposure through a vast range of media channels. Increasingly, those channels are moving away from the more managed - and manageable - channels, such as print, TV and radio, and towards social media channels. And not just the new-fangled channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but their older forebears as well: motorcycle racing forums, newsgroups, mailing lists.

Social media has come to play a central role in the communications armory of a motorcycle racing team, especially for teams which are not at the very front of the MotoGP class - which is most of them. Where once they were dependent on the whim of TV directors for a few seconds of TV coverage, with no guarantee that their sponsors' names and logos would be either recognizable or legible, now they can reach their own, highly dedicated and extraordinarily measurable audience through channels beyond the control of traditional media. Posting video on Youtube of an interview with the rider, or a clip of some onboard action, or an idle moment of silliness in the pits, then sharing it through Twitter, Facebook and other social media, and allowing the viral and exponential nature of media sharing to work its magic is creating exposure beyond anything PR managers had previously imagined.

Just how important has this become? The communications expert for one team in a major national championship told me that their return on investment from social media now vastly outweighs their exposure on TV. Photos shared via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, videos posted on Youtube now reach more people, for a longer period of time, and with more measurable interaction than TV ever could. A flash of a few seconds on a TV broadcast may reach a massive audience, but the question is how much of that exposure sticks in the mind of the viewers. An onboard clip on Youtube may reach a fraction of the total numbers of the TV broadcast, but the duration - on average, between one and two minutes - and the engagement - the measurable amount of interaction - is almost infinitely greater.

When they get it right, racing teams can truly reap the benefit of videos going viral. The Pata Honda World Superbike team - among the very best at exploiting social media, along with the Marc VDS Moto2 team, and to a growing extent, the Repsol Media Service - spent a few minutes putting together a Harlem Shake video, jumping on to the latest Internet meme bandwagon. Since they posted it on February 19th, less than four weeks ago as I write this, the video has received over 370,000 views, going viral and appearing on internet websites, racing message boards, Twitter, Facebook pages and countless other outlets all over the internet. The name of their title sponsor, and many of the secondary sponsors, are clearly in view throughout the video.

Take away a team's ability to do this, to use this kind of Youtube footage to help promote their message and the brands which support them, and you seriously hamper their ability to sell themselves to potential sponsors. Companies themselves are making heavy use of social media to help promote their brands, and allowing a tie-in with a racing team makes that team's sponsorship package look massively more attractive. Tie their hands - or at least, tie them unreasonably - and you limit their ability to raise sponsorship. When teams fail to raise revenues for themselves, they have to go cap-in-hand to Dorna, who then have to pay out extra to keep the grid size up to scratch. Allowing teams to use all of the tools at their disposal to generate income is a far more efficient way to run a series, and in the long run, will more than make up for any shortfall from less restrictive TV contracts.

What Dorna fails to see here is that the teams - like the sport's many fans on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks yet to take off - are doing their work for them. By promoting their team, they are helping to promote the sport, and more specifically, to keep the buzz surrounding the sport going while there is a break in the racing. If teams are allowed to share video and audio recorded over a race weekend after the fact, that helps stoke the fires of fan enthusiasm, and expand the sport to a wider audience.

The ban on filming inside both the MotoGP and WSBK paddocks is also entirely ineffective, especially now that the Moto2 and Moto3 riders are no longer allowed to park their motorhomes inside the paddock. Moto2 and Moto3 riders now head back to their hotels - the same hotel where the team press officer is staying, usually - where the paddock video ban is neither imposed, nor enforceable were it to be imposed. Teams - Moto2 and Moto3 teams, at least - are free to record whatever they like, and use it as they will. Though onboard footage from official IRTA tests is likely to fall under this Youtube ban, footage from unofficial tests will not. It becomes less attractive for the teams to attend the official tests, and more attractive to organize their own private testing. In fact, an enterprising video start up could even try to organize those private tests for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, and provide a full video service, including footage from both racetrack and garages to post on video websites, circumventing Dorna's control altogether, and creating a de facto competitor.

To an extent, this is what is happening in the USA. As the AMA continues to struggle with TV coverage - according to numbers on the Superbikeplanet website, AMA rounds receive an average of 87,000 viewers per race. To counteract the restrictions imposed by the Speed network (now part of FOX), several projects have sprung up, including a documentary on the 2012 AMA Superbike series called Road Warriors, and a web series featuring AMA Superbike racer Chris Fillmore, documenting his 2013 season racing a KTM RC8R. Fillmore's two videos posted so far have amassed over 18,000 views. That is far more exposure than he would have gained from US TV coverage.

Ironically, Dorna is actually quite good at social media - with the obvious exception of Youtube. The MotoGP Facebook page has over 4 million fans  - and the official MotoGP Twitter account has over 455,000 followers. Information is shared freely, and fans are engaged with, not just via the official account, but also through the accounts of the journalists working for Dorna in one capacity or another. Dorna has done an outstanding job of leveraging Twitter and Facebook for MotoGP, and if it could leverage that same success for World Superbikes - something which the previous owners tended to rather neglect - that will be a gain.

Unfortunately, other companies involved in MotoGP have not taken such a forward-thinking approach. Two companies currently involved at the very highest levels of motorcycle racing (which I hope you will excuse me for not naming, for fear of exposing my sources) appear to be clamping down on the use of social media by their staff. Unsettled by pictures and opinions appearing on social media that do not fall precisely within the confines of the corporate image they want to convey, and incapable of drawing up a sensible policy on what should and should not be communicated, they are attempting to shut them down. In one company, an edict has been issued banning staff from any use of social media, public or private, while traveling for that company (in effect, a blanket ban on all posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by their staff throughout an entire race weekend). In another, a policy has been issued which completely bans staff from posting even speculative thoughts on future developments inside racing, whether related to their own jobs or employers, or those of others.

This is truly one of the most short-sighted moves a company can make. The breadth and depth of key figures in the paddock willing to share their thoughts via Facebook and Twitter is a veritable feast for the fans. Instead of having to absorb ideas already predigested by other media outlets, fans have been able to hear directly from those involved, ask them questions, and read their responses. It has been a massive boost to the sport, and hugely increased fan involvement. Though clearly, guidelines should be in place, everyone employed in the MotoGP paddock at the highest level is sensible and intelligent enough to understand what is and what is not permissible. The single fact that PR managers need to impress upon their staff is that anything posted on social media is de facto a public statement, and likely to appear in the media. With that knowledge in mind, team and company staff should be just careful enough about what they post, without feeling restricted to engage in conversations with the many thousands of fans that follow them.

What companies, and especially, PR professionals who grew up in a world before Facebook and Twitter, fear is that they will lose control of their message. What they fail to understand is that this is something that happened a very long time ago. The internet redefined broadcasting, taking away power from a few large media empires, which could be controlled or at least influenced, and put it into the hands of millions upon millions of individuals, beyond the influence of the marketing department. This is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, with networks making it possible to increase reach exponentially, but at the price of sacrificing control over the precise message. As internet access has increased, and as the use of social media of one form or another has expanded, this process has accelerated explosively. An image, a message, a tweet can circle the globe in seconds, and once it has been launched, it cannot be deleted.

While companies may not be able to control the message, that does not mean that they cannot skillfully guide and channel a message to gain maximum benefit from it. The brevity of much social media communication leaves much room for ambiguity, allowing even negative messages to be subverted, appropriated, and turned into positive ones. Turning those messages around requires creativity and skill, but when successful, is far more powerful than merely attempting to quash any form of communication altogether. The hive mind of social media is superb at spotting fakes and fake messages. The kind of insincere marketing guff that PR people used to be able to get away with invariably gets ignored on social media, for failing to pass the social media sniff test. Does this smell like a sponsored message? If it does, then why would I pass it on? If something is truly exciting, compelling, engaging, moving, fascinating, people will share. If it is not, the message withers on the vine.

Companies fighting use of social media and Dorna fighting Youtube videos are engaged in the worst kind of hopeless rearguard actions. The ability and willingness of people to share and communicate on the internet continues to grow without limit, and the tools they have at their disposal get better, smarter, smaller, more discrete, and more powerful every year. I have a new phone since the beginning of this year, which now has a 10MP camera and is capable of recording full HD video. The phone it replaces had a 3MP camera, and could only produce very shaky postage-stamp-sized video. I can film in HD unobtrusively, with no external cues I am doing so, and though the quality is hardly broadcast-standard, it is perfectly adequate for filming interviews, interesting moments in the paddock, chance encounters and the like. I am unable to publish any such video - the terms of my Dorna pass explicitly forbid me doing so, and I have neither the inclination nor the ability to produce such videos - but it is not because of a lack of tools. WiFi, 3G (and now 4G), internet connectivity is becoming ubiquitous, and will only become more so in the future. This is completely beyond the ability of even the most despotic regimes and organizations to restrict, let alone a medium-sized company running a niche sport.

It is time for Dorna, and everyone else inside motorcycle racing, to start to embrace social media and the opportunities they offer. The sport of motorcycle racing has spent the last five years trapped in a vicious cycle of cost-cutting, as traditional forms of sponsorship fall away. This coincides with the collapse of a lot of printed media, with newspapers and magazines closing every year. Sponsors are getting less and less value for money via the old ways of doing things, what is needed is a new approach.

We have spent the past five years discussing what will save MotoGP, and are engaged in similar discussions now over the future of World Superbikes. While controlling costs is clearly a very good idea - the removal of unlimited testing, now replaced by testing limited by the number of tires available, is one sensible way of saving money - it won't be technical regulations which will save MotoGP, or WSBK, or any other form of racing. We can't look to a spec ECU, or price-capped suspension, or limiting the number of engines used to save racing. What is needed is, quite simply, more money. Much more money.

The only way to bring more money into the sport is through innovation in the field of marketing. Greater fan participation, and greater fan access is one huge step forward, as what that does is both broaden the fan base and increase fan engagement. Leveraging that increased fan base and more highly engaged fan base will generate far more money for the sport than any change to the rules ever will. It is not that Twitter will save MotoGP, or Facebook will save World Superbikes - given the history of social networking sites (MySpace, anyone?) those too will pass. But inside the arch conservative halls of motor sport, the understanding that the world has changed irrevocably has to sink in, and we need to start working to exploit the changes which have taken will continue to place. In the future, there will be more sharing, more connectivity, more communication, and less control. That is an immensely powerful tool in the right hands. Now we just have to make sure that the right hands are in motorcycle racing.

When the news that Dorna would be taking over World Superbikes broke, there was a wave of outrage among fans, expressing the fear that the Spanish company would set about destroying the series they had grown to love. So far, Dorna have been careful not to get involved in debates about the technical regulations which seem to be so close to fans' hearts, their only criteria so far appearing to be a demand that bikes should cost 250,000 euros for an entire season. Yet they have already make one move which has a serious negative impact on the series: they are clamping down on video footage from inside the paddock.There was some consternation - and there is still some confusion - about the situation at the first round of WSBK at Phillip Island at the end of February. Where previously, teams and journalists had been free to shoot various videos inside the paddock, there were mixed signals coming from Dorna management, with some people told there was an outright and immediate ban, with threats of serious consequences should it be ignored, while others were saying that they had heard nothing on the subject. That Dorna is determined to reduce the amount of free material on Youtube became immediately clear after the race weekend was over: in previous years, brief, two-minute race summaries would appear on the official World Superbike Youtube channel after every weekend. After the first race of 2013, only the post-race interviews were posted on the site. It is a long-standing Dorna policy to try to strictly control what ends up on Youtube and what doesn't. It is their most serious mistake, and one which could end up badly damaging the sport unless it is changed very soon.This is a battle that has been going on inside Dorna, and many other major companies involved in motorcycle racing. It is about a fundamental change in the media landscape, a shift away from centralized control towards a diffuse and distributed form of media broadcasting, communication strategy and promotion. It is a shift that is permanent, affects the way in which sports are promoted and monetized, and radically alters the balance of power throughout all levels of the sport. The old hierarchies are dead, and trying to maintain them will merely end up crippling motorcycle racing.

Comments

For how it could be done

For an example of the right way to do this, check out the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center. Though there are many reasons to dislike the way NASCAR does some things (such as intervene in the racing artificially to close up the field), the way they attempt to leverage the marketing side of the sport and bring money in is beyond reproach. That should be emulated, while attempting to retain the purity of the racing inside MotoGP and WSBK.

Total votes: 59

Courageous and clear

Yes! Thank you for being so courageous and clear. Again, you and your work are VERY appreciated David.
Go get em compadre!

Total votes: 57

stupid dorna

am more angry with dorna than I was before!!!

Total votes: 68

Excellent!

Great article David. It will be interesting to see if/how Dorna adapts. Unfortunately, if history is to be a guide, media companies tend to be pulled kicking and screaming into new technologies by their user base. The MPAA tried to outlaw the VCR, only to have it become a huge platform for making money. The RIAA used to try to prevent all kinds of electronic music (preferring to sell it on CD's) and now they've sold billions of songs on iTunes, etc. I'm curious if you read Techdirt? A lot of what you wrote above is mirroring a lot of what they've been suggesting for a long time for media companies (although I don't think they've ever talked about motorsports).

You'd think they would see the internet and social media as a great way to connect with fans and give them further reasons to buy tickets to races, MotoGP.com subscriptions, etc. But as you point out, the marketing departments are probably getting really freaked out by the reduced control to their brand & messaging.

Total votes: 68

A fantastic.....

..... insight as to just how behind the times Dorna really is.

Fantastic writing David.

Do you remember the MM93 & Wilarot crash? With MM ramming RW from behind? OK it was not a pleasant sight at all, but Dorna pulled it from YouTube creating many dead links on forums etc.

A certain Twitter user hosted it his Telly channel (formally TwitVid) where MCN embedded it & a few of the none Dorna journos RT'd it. That video has nearly 17k views now and 99% of those came in the first week.

My point is, if a nasty crash can attact so much attention then just think how much a great sequence of well edited passes can.

Good luck to Dorna, let's hope they open their eyes soon enough.

Thanks David, great article.

Total votes: 67

Oh dear!

David, have you realized what you have done??

You have just introduced ban on cellphones in motogp and wsbk paddocks!!

Total votes: 65

Thank You

You know my situation. I am still pondering how we are going to cover MotoGP this year, even though we've already pre-booked flights, lodging, etc. Being charged (5x more now) to cover their series is frustrating to say the least.

I still haven't decided on the right course. And we don't even do video.

-jim

www.motopodcast.com

Total votes: 57

The CEO

It is as though the outside world doesn't exist and MotoGP exists in it's own world it wished was reality.

It is highly frustrating.

I have read several articles over the years analysing the effectiveness of CEO's - this (http://hbr.org/2013/03/long-ceo-tenure-can-hurt-performance/ar/1) is the latest in a long line of argument that points to the optimum effective tenure of a CEO to be less than 5 years. When you consider the history of GP racing, Dorna and the people behind it's creation in GP terms did a much needed job in ousting the incumbent and modernising the sport for the new management, commercial and media realities of the day.

But as this article neatly states, that reality is now very old. The young fans whose interest the sport needs to be capturing weren't even born.

What will it take to get a repeat of that same kind of revolutionary shake up?

Halving of TV rights values? A sponsorship exodus? Grid sizes dipping below the worst case scenario minimum put into the contract? Teams having to rely on riders with money?

I've thought before, an interesting measure of the health of grand prix racing would be: how many sponsors are investing in the sport out of patronage (personal interest of a decision maker)?

I'd bet it's most of them. (Not healthy!)

And, to continue my rant, the logical marketing objective of MotoGP would be: get more decision makers in business personally interested in MotoGP.

If only you could freely, quickly and easily distribute the best bits of MotoGP racing to as many people as possible...just maybe we'd reach some of those business people and capture their attention too.

Oh wait...

Total votes: 67

Article of the Year

Wow, best article I've read so far this year...anywhere on the internet or in print.

My wife and I shell out the $100+ CDN required to watch the live official MotoGP feed because it's the only way we can watch the live footage, and we think it's worth it, but we are alone in our love of the sport locally and we have no effective way of converting others short of inviting them over at 5 a.m. to watch an overseas race with us. We'd love to tweet a link to some clips from last weekend's race, but hardly any clips exist anywhere but behind MotoGP's paywall.

Somehow we became interested, but Dorna is preventing us from getting others interested too. We'll happily help you for free Dorna! You don't even have to provide us with the resources; just allow others to and we'll take care of your direct marketing for you. You've already shot the footage. Let us use it to push your sport and your product on others. For free.

Total votes: 82

TV coverage

Great article! Hope I am not hi-jacking this but now that Speed (now Fox Sport) will not be showing WSB here in Canada how are we supposed to watch WSB? My provider - Shaw does not have the Al Jazeera network which has allinsport so there is seemingly no way we can watch this year. What happens next - maybe MotoGP will not be shown iether? At least I have the Dorna subscription for that. Might Dorna consider throwing in the WSB coverage along with the MotoGP subscription coverage? Doub't it - would likely charge us another 100 Euros.
As a matter of interest, I tried downloading the Phillip Island WSB race via BitTorrent but got the message that it would not work in my area.
Maybe Dorna's first priority should be to ensure that TV coverage is available everywhere?

Total votes: 53

Terrific article

There have been literally dozens of brilliant articles from you, David, over the years. This is my favourite. Very thorough piece. Thank you!

Total votes: 63

But will they...

...ever learn? Dorna still seems to be in the stone age in this subject. I doubt they are brave enough to do a 180, so they will be going on with rather pathetic actions like releasing video's on Youtube which are non-embeddable. Actions that only show how big their problem is and from how far they will need to come.

Total votes: 49

This is Dorna's problem: "The

This is Dorna's problem:

"The sale of TV rights has been the foundation on which Dorna's business was built ..."

There is a difference between popularity and profit. How is this revenue stream going to be increased by a hands-off approach to the distribution of digital media, whether it is produced by Dorna or by the teams or by sponsors or fans?

Dorna, like the rest of us, have seen what happened to the music industry. The New York Times reports that in 2012, global music sales rose for the first time since 1999, but that the increase was 0.3 percent, that total revenues were less than half - HALF - of what they were in 1999, and that the increase came from things like subscription services and "marketing uses of music" i.e., leasing or selling the rights to music for commercials. In other words, they're making a little more money selling music to other companies, which will abide by contracts and agreements, but not by selling to the consumer. The total number of subscription customers is about 20 million, or about one-third the number of copies of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" that were sold.

Dorna cannot afford to see its revenues cut 50 percent for a decade and a half. GP racing - or at least the sanctioning body - will disappear long before that.

The clampdown is a temporary thing. Right now, Dorna is trying to buy time to figure out how IT can capitalize on "new" media. What is good for teams, riders, and even sponsors might not be good for Dorna and its institutional investors. Dorna needs to see a direct line to its bottom line. Not to put too fine an edge on this, but what does Dorna care if Rossi has 100 million followers on Twitter if anyone can just fire up a computer and watch him perform for free? What good does it do to Dorna to have the world's most popular sport if no one is paying an entrance fee at the turnstile? Can Dorna increase the sanctioning fees and fees to sponsors to cover the collapse in television revenue? As David notes, Dorna only makes money three ways. Take away one ...

Dorna does not produce sports. Dorna produces returns on investment. Dorna produces money. And in a world where anyone can reproduce and distribute digital media, making money by trying to sell what can be obtained for free is going to be a difficult proposition.

Even the cost of producing such digital media is tumbling. There's a club in Northern California that offers multiple-camera Internet streaming of its races. Give me four well-placed fans with the right smartphones, and I could put together a watchable version of a race.

David is right - the controls over the messages have been lost. But that also means the ability to make money on those messages have been lost. I knew when I saw my copyrighted music, the stuff that I'd written, recorded and produced, being file-shared that I'd never see another royalty check again.

The future of our sport, I think, will reflect the reality of the RIAA, and we're going to have significantly less revenue because digital media is no longer a profit generator, and we will simply have to cope with that. The dissipation of control over the message, the democratization of the production of the message, means that the message is no longer valuable, as in having a monetary value.

I've heard for 15 years now how the geniuses in the music industry (and the television and movie industry) were going to recapture their glory days of revenue. And, um, uh ...

Total votes: 55

I'm missing something

I think that either I'm missing something in your argument or you're missing something in David's. What I thought we were talking about here was social media sharing of video clips, whether clips of actual official track footage or stuff shot in the pits and elsewhere, some more official, other stuff less so. We're not talking about the race broadcasts. Obviously Dorna wants control over that. It's the little clips that can be used to promote the race broadcasts via social networking that I think Dorna should lighten up on, and I thought that was the point David was trying to make, or at least part of the point. If fans start to try to bootleg an entire race, or put together a full episode of race highlights that recap a whole event, yeah, I think Dorna should step in, but I don't think that's the issue at hand. Did I misinterpret?

Total votes: 60

To me, it's all ones and

To me, it's all ones and zeros. Doesn't make much practical or technological difference whether it's a 30-second clip or a full race. I think that was one of the things David was noting; that even live full broadcasts are being hijacked and watched in the pits, and Dorna can't do a thing about it. If that's the case, why bother annoying someone who's sharing a clip on Twitter?

Dorna's apparently pretty good at knocking stuff off of YouTube, but fans have been torrenting their full races for years. Same with other series. If it goes across a screen, it can and will be reproduced, whether it's a 90-second clip or the entire race. It's like trying to police the wind.

This is my point, and I think David's point in the part of the article when he talks about the illegal soccer broadcasts: The gates are down. The dam has burst. Completely.

The recording industry is trying to make a new business model with half the revenue it had 15 years ago. Dorna is trying to, with its crackdowns, push the arrival of that cold reality back as far as it can.

And one thing we learned from the RIAA experience: Giving away 'samples' and 'teasers' didn't work. People just took the free stuff and then moved on to other free stuff.

My thoughts.

Total votes: 66

Filesharing

"I knew when I saw my copyrighted music, the stuff that I'd written, recorded and produced, being file-shared that I'd never see another royalty check again."

Just out of personal interest, was your assumption correct?

Total votes: 67

Filesharing

"I knew when I saw my copyrighted music, the stuff that I'd written, recorded and produced, being file-shared that I'd never see another royalty check again."

Just out of personal interest, was your assumption correct?

Edit: Sorry for the double post, my phone browser sometimes has a will of its own...

Total votes: 51

Yes. Not that they were huge

Yes. Not that they were huge to begin with, but I never got another one.

Total votes: 56

Why I support a top tier site...

"The hive mind of social media is superb at spotting fakes and fake messages. The kind of insincere marketing guff that PR people used to be able to get away with invariably gets ignored on social media, for failing to pass the social media sniff test. Does this smell like a sponsored message? If it does, then why would I pass it on? If something is truly exciting, compelling, engaging, moving, fascinating, people will share. If it is not, the message withers on the vine."
The people that frequent the Twitter world know those sentences to be so true. Although I have not figured out the two top teams who have banned social media during race weekends... Great article David.

Total votes: 44

Justin Bieber laughs at MotoGP's 450k followers

The Biebs has 35,000,000 followers on Twitter and a Ducati 848. Get the boy into the paddock, already.

Total votes: 56

I think.....

...... he had a custom 675 Triumph too.

Ditto you thoughts. I don't care for him personally but if he can bring attention, it's got to be a good thing.

Total votes: 55

Fools

Want to grow your customer base? Give them a taste.

My local bakery knows this. My bank knows this. Older software firms have had their eyes opened by the likes of Google with Microsoft, IBM, Oracle giving away fully functioning versions of big corporate software. Even big record labels have (mostly) come around to this, themselves uploading the latest Britney crap to YouTube for free marketing instead of shutting down every amateur's upload.

MotoGP however have not figured this out. The main website always has the shittiest single video available for free!!! and that awesome on-board from last year's qualifying that everyone wants to watch on Friday to get the blood pumping is available only to customers to have stumped up a pretty hefty fee. Because that's where the extra income is going to come from.

Put the best overtakes, best laps, and best crashes on YouTube immediately after the race so when I rock up late to work on Monday morning raving about last night's race (non-Euro timezone) I can email clips with ease and convert the non-believers!

But no. Dorna must be in control. Of everything. That, coupled with a misguided belief that extra revenue can be had from some middle-tier on-line customer (i.e. not a season subscriber but still willing to pay for "content") and that they can stream videos better than, say, YouTube or Vimeo, is proof to anyone younger than, say, 25 that they don't know what they're doing.

These young'uns are connected all of the time. When most other content is free, they're very, very uninterested in content that is not. And it's not like the sponsor's and advertiser's logos are going anywhere.

Total votes: 47

A Vicious or Virtuous Cycle. Which does Dorna want?

Dorna earns its money in part from selling TV rights and charging promotion rights to circuits. Two different revenue streams that have conflicting needs re social media.

It is obviously attempting to protect TV sales by clamping down on social media exposure of clips (long or short) to make the sale of TV rights more attractive to TV companies. However, this may be counter-productive when attempting to sell promotion rights to circuits.

I don't have much issue with Dorna attempting to eradicate rogue broadcasts of entire races. However, they should be encouraging short social media clips. These create interest in the product (racing) and can reach many people who would not go looking for content. They will be happy. Some of these people will be encouraged to attend races. This is good for the circuit promoter who will be happy. Increased attendance means increased ability to pay Dorna's fees. Dorna is then happy. Happiness all around!

Not using social media to spread the message will result in circuits pulling out of the series as they will be unable to create interest, paying spectators and profit. This will leave Dorna without a series to promote to TV companies, no revenue streams and a lot of unhappy racing fans.

Dorna also has other issues. Fans attending race meetings want racing - lots of it. TV stations want a few high profile races that run on time. Another conflict of interest. To keep the televised races on time at the recent Philip Island WSBK the schedule was changed. This meant fans were sitting in the hot sun for 1.5 hours between races. Lots of unhappy people who spent a lot of money just to get sunburned and bored.

I spoke to a lot of people who said they weren't coming back next year.

Bruce.

Total votes: 58

I don't think the world's

I don't think the world's circuits have enough room for all the additional people you'd have to sell tickets to to make up for television revenue. I suspect that TV rights make up the biggest part of Dorna's revenue stream, and all the marketing in the world to bring more people to the track won't generate enough ticket sales to make up the difference if those TV rights go away. TV audiences are awesome because they don't actually show up at the track, they provide half of the infrastructure necessary to deliver the message, and adding millions of audience members can be accomplished with a flick of a few switches. It's a big bang for a few bucks invested - as long as you can keep control over the content.

And I think you're right, the promoters forget those actually attending the event. I could not agree more that those in attendance want lots of racing. I think that is one of the things that BSB does very, very well; for your ticket in to the track, you get to watch a LOT of racing.

Total votes: 57

Marketing vs. Monetization

"If something is truly exciting, compelling, engaging, moving, fascinating, people will share. If it is not, the message withers on the vine."

".....it won't be technical regulations which will save MotoGP, or WSBK, or any other form of racing."

While I understand that these comments can co-exist in a single marketing strategy, I would suggest that creating proper technical regulations is one of the fundamental building blocks of creating content. Sport is the business of monetizing competitive endeavors, and the unpredictability of live-action competitive contests sets them apart from other well-defined goods and services. If the rules that govern these competitive endeavors are not thoughtfully constructed, good content cannot be created, and the best marketing platforms in the world will not help the product go viral.

Both MotoGP and WSBK are afflicted by questionable technical regulations. MotoGP suffers from a lack of factory participation. WSBK racing suffers from slowly crumbling global production-racing marketplace. Attempting to monetize 'viral' status with either product is like standing in a bucket with both feet, and trying to lift yourself up by the handle. Perhaps the cult of personality could bring a windfall in the middle-term, but as you have opined, the sport becomes vulnerable to the shifting allegiances and sentiments of the famous individuals. If the races aren't as compelling as the biographical reality tv, the commercial rights holders are not earning money.

The interesting observation, imo, is that exposure works in both the media distribution strategies and the technical regulations. Increasing manufacturer, team, and sponsor exposure to the international road racing paddock creates a better product. The question: When do you start to monetize the industry you've created?

I think it's clear that MotoGP should be monetizing NOW, and I believe that's how Dorna view the situation. MotoGP had the content when the 990cc 4-strokes were created. Dorna spent a ton of money launching an internet media platform, and assembling a competent team of media professionals to capture the MotoGP spectacle in high-def.

I believe this is why Dorna are not savvy with social media. They are worried about doing anything that might affect their ability to turn MotoGP media into profit, and they'd rather fight the inevitability of change, until the problems with the technical regulations can be resolved. You may remember that Dorna were very lassiez faire once upon a time, when the product was excellent. When the ratings got wobbly, and the website was relaunched, and the private equity companies demanded free-to-air coverage on the Beeb, the empire of Dorna became decidedly less open.

Despite painting a gloomy picture of the paddock, I'm cautiously optimistic. Suzuki seem interested in fulfilling their promise to return. Kawasaki rumors are floating around. Dall'Igna was hopeful in a recent interview. These patches of sunshine make me believe that a solution has already been reached in principle. The factories are putting the pieces in place so they are ready when the new regulations (yet to be mentioned) are put in place.

Total votes: 58

The most confusing thing to me...

about Dorna controlling the recording in the WSBK paddock is that they don't DMCA SBK stuff on youtube. I just checked again as I typed this, and SBK Round 1 at Phillip Island is on youtube in full and in good quality, and the entire 2012 season is as well in Eurosport 480 or 720p. How can they be so strict with one series, and apparently so strict in the SBK paddock, but still allow this?

Total votes: 59

Also I've personally had videos DMCA'd by Dorna

And they were exactly the kind that your article speaks of. The first one was the Marquez/Luthi 2012 Qatar last lap incident. Another was Stoner v. Rossi at Germany in 2010 I believe, where he stalked Rossi the last few laps then threw him a dummy and got past him the last corner of the race. I was trying to explain to someone Stoner's strategy and how he got the better of Rossi in this particular scenario ( And he better have...as I recall Rossi was just returning from his broken leg and still nearly got on the podium...).

Both were interesting things that people would like to see and talk about, but couldn't for no good reason imo. I was excited to see that the MotoGP youtube channel has been adding things over the winter break, but it's still too little, too late. Those amazing first laps from Marquez should have been online before the races were over. More classic races and big Rossi races would be nice.

Oh, and someone with an actual sense of humor. I think anyone who has seen their "funny moments of motogp" videos would agree...

Total votes: 62

TLDR

I pay my 100+ euro every year to watch. But I watch less and less live. I think I buy the full subscription to the video feed to convince myself that I'm still just as passionate about racing as I used to be. It's harder work all the time.

But I'll sum up with two quotes from Jack Welch:

-Control your own destiny or someone else will.

-Number one, cash is king... number two, communicate... number three, buy or bury the competition.

Total votes: 58

It's all about money, but money for the wrong people

Don't get me wrong, I think a successful series should have well paid organizers, but when guys like Gino Rea are raising their own money for a team, etc. it all seems to be out of whack. If they want to be successful they need to promote the series properly, not lock down everything and try to get as much out of the little bit of control they still have left. I would love to pay for torrents of the races, even after the fact, I don't need live I just need coverage and if that means torrents then why not charge for a subscription. Fans like to support sports they enjoy, so give them a means to. Here in Canada there is no way for me to support it, and I WILL NOT support the Speed network as it makes me sick. Call it what it is, Nascar TV. Oh you want some motorcycle racing? we'll throw it on at 12am with terrible video and if we decide that there is something better we will just show it another time.....it's crap. Every guy I see on a sport bike that I get close enough to talk to I ask him about the races on the weekend, and you know what, not one knows anything about them. I don't expect them all to but to me that is totally missing your best potential fanbase. Look at the AMA right now, it is swirling down the toilet because they screwed up all the promotional mojo they had built up over the years.

As far as comparing it to the music industry, I get it, but it is bad comparison. The music industry was bloated and made ridiculous amounts on the backs of many artists that made very little, sure the top 1% made millions but only because the executives made much more. Nothing should ever be modeled or learned from that debacle :) kidding of course.

Total votes: 56

Marketing..

Dorna's understanding of marketing its product reminds me of Hewlett-Packard in the late 70's: great product, would describe prime sushi as: 'dead uncooked fish'.

Hewlett-Packard went from being the world's second most successful computer manufacturing company to the second-string consumer brand for Compaq, in less than ten years.

Dorna is so myopic in regard to its marketing that is is viewing only the inside of its own underpants. Five years ago, the mention of 'Rossi' unlocked wallets world-wide, and Dorna could virtually (no pun intended) ask its own price. Time has marched on, and neither situation is the same. The world wants access to the interesting stuff, and social media (and yes, Youtube et al) provides the teasers. Dorna still owns the show, but social media communicates a huge part of the story.

Until Dorna understands that it is the show that underpins the rest - not scavenging an odd particle off the top of the social media stream - it will fail to concentrate on making the show its primary product. Without the show, it will HAVE no product. Rossi cannot carry the show beyond this year - win, draw or lose in the public imagination. As fantastic as he has been for the sport, the dynamic for public attention has changed and Dorna has completely failed to comprehend that. It is like the dinosaur, seeing the approaching fireball in the sky and not knowing how to evolve to outlive it.

Total votes: 49

Selling the sizzle...

As you might imagine, we are keenly interested in promoting the excitement of this sport, which we hope trickles down to people wanting to come see for itself (and booking with us!)

The equation to me seems bone simple:
Excitement -> more fans -> more people watching and/or coming to races -> more $$ for all of us involved

We routinely put up little clips of people having a great time, cool & interesting things about races, bikes and riders (race starts, Rossi for the first time on the Ducati at a pre season test, arguments between riders, Colin Edwards sharing his opinion. Heck, even our 'home video' of Rossi's overtake of Lorenzo in Catalunya 2009 was featured on the movie Fastest!) We do this out of self-interest of course: it may be cool, people will watch, people will share, more people will get interested; um... back to start of loop.

A few of these have been blocked by Dorna. (To be fair, many have not)

Now we have sent DIRECTLY to Dorna well over $2m over the past years (and indirectly responsible for a LOT more) which may help to put my opinion into some sort of context:

1/ How could putting up these videos POSSIBLY hurt Dorna's commercial interest, when I can show categorically that it certainly HELPS if even in a small way

2/ Why should they restrict themselves to 30-40 media agencies when they can have literally thousands 'spreading the gospel'? Don't punish, encourage! (Hell, I will even put up a grand prize for the winner of 'YouTube of the year!'!!)

(I would add that the Isle of Man encourages this behaviour and fan interest there is stratospheric!)

3/ David is spot on the money here : they need to embrace these media and the opportunities they bring. "In threat lies opportunity"

By posting this, I appreciate I am exposing us to Dorna - a valued and good partner for many years - but I can't let David's comments (putting his own business in jeopardy) go without our support.

My solution? Grass roots. Everyone get your phones and video devices pointing at all the cool stuff in MotoGP and SBK and share with all your friends!

As I recently mentioned to the folk who run the fantastic Catalunya Circuit: the first 8 minutes of the film "Faster" will sell more tickets to Catalunya events than all the TV advertising and trade shows you spend on... If this stuff doesn't turn you on, you are a zombie.

-gordon

Total votes: 60

Thanks David

I'm going to cut and paste this article across to my own MotoGP blog now. I hope you don't object - that would be counterproductive of you, after all.

Total votes: 48

A petty comment

But so long as you properly cite, link, and don't pass it off as your own, then I suspect not - as David understands that potentially both of your blog readers might then click through to his blog as well.

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33098/How-Not-to-Steal-Peopl...

Total votes: 54

Read again!

You missed the point, wazman.

Total votes: 63

Copying articles

There are a number of tools for checking for copying of online content, which I occasionally run just for fun. It turns up a surprisingly large number of copies of my stuff. I tend not to bother going after it, it is a waste of my resources. I sometimes contact forum owners who are posting the articles regularly, and ask them if they would integrate with the RSS feed instead, and they usually comply.

Although I would prefer that people did it properly - posted an extract or summary, and a link back to the original article - I am not going to waste my time going after people copying my articles. I actively encourage people to share them, add their own comments, use sections to add their own commentary. I do this because I know that by sharing my articles, they are growing my audience, and (hopefully) boosting my reputation. On the internet, reputation is everything. That is why I encourage sharing, and also why I publish retractions of stories I get wrong. So that my readers know what I get right and what I get wrong. 

I also encourage interaction, which is why I allow comments on the site, and why I interact with my readers. This website/blog, whatever you want to call it, is a form of social media. It is two-way communication. To keep the communication relevant and interesting, I regularly delete and edit comments. The interaction is all the better for it.

This tactic has worked well. I now make my living from the site, and pay almost every single contributor - not much, not as much as they deserve, but real money. I believe that this was the best path for me to follow, to ensure the viability of the site. So far, it is working.

So, go ahead, cut and paste this article on your own blog. It would be nice if you acknowledge where it came from. It would be much, much better if you added a link back to the original article. I have been toying with using a Creative Commons License for the site - at least for my own articles (by-nc-sa) - and so that would not necessarily violate the principles by which I run the site. As we used to say when I was a programmer, I try to eat my own dogfood.

Total votes: 58

Sure David

and congratulations on your success, but the assumption is that people will exhibit the sort of behaviour you expect. People won't - whatever they can nick for free, especially online, they will. In my experience people will go into this sort of argument saying 'Dorna should be more open, encourage YouTube videos, it would grow their audience, they've got their head up their butt' etc when really they're just venting about the fact that they can't get what they want for nothing. Same goes for music downloads, music downloads ....

The issue is bigger than Dorna anyway - it also involves the TV stations around the world that buy the rights. There is a legal obligation, when you sell TV rights in a particular country, to do your best to ensure the footage or show you're selling isn't available to people in that country via some other means. If Dorna started acquiescing in people put footage on YouTube, which is available everywhere, or on some other platform they would have huge contractual problems who pay millions for exclusivity.

I think it would be extremely hard to prove a commercial argument that Dorna would somehow be better off letting people take their footage and put it up on YouTube, or putting the highlights up there themselves (there is such a thing as After The Flag, by the way, and that's free if sporadic sometimes and I find it quite good). Dorna have probably weighed it up and decided, on balance, that it's more profitable to keep the race footage locked down.

Let's discuss your argument that you can make a quid while allowing sharing, cutting and pasting etc. so why can't Dorna. It's really quite simple: you have a unique offering - YOU are the brand and the opportunity to interact with YOU is why people come here. Whereas if people can watch a livestream on MotoGP.com for a price, or get it in full/see highlight clips somewhere else for free, you can probably guess where they'll go.

As far as the value of MotoGP YouTube clips go in general: personally, having already watched the racing, rather than televised stuff I'd rather see footage from a trackside spectactor's camera that might tell me something new about what happened.

Total votes: 50

Commercial Argument

@wazman

"I think it would be extremely hard to prove a commercial argument that Dorna would somehow be better off letting people take their footage and put it up on YouTube"

No it isn't.

Total votes: 43

The argument is pretty easy:

The argument is pretty easy: the biggest part of Dorna's income is TV revenue. The bigger the audience you have, the more money you can demand from the TV guys for your product. GP has a small audience; one way to grow that audience is to allow fans to post clips, interviews, etc. on social media (not full races, or other things specifically sold to the TV broadcasters) but things that might spark an interest in a non-fan. They get interested enough, they'll try to find it on TV to watch the next race. Just like that, you have a new fan, and can add another number to your audience to sell to the TV guys. Get more people interested, get more money for your TV product. I hate the word "hip", but making a fan take down a video of something they find really cool about a sport they love is the opposite of "hip". It's draconian, and isn't going to earn you any new fans.

I don't have to pay specifically for any other sport I want to watch. I can pay for a channel dedicated to that sport, but if I want to watch football, I can watch football without paying anything extra (be it another cable channel or a subscription service through a website). Same thing for basketball, baseball, soccer.

You don't want FANS to pay directly for your sport (unless they go to an event) - you want ADVERTISERS to pay for it - advertisers who want a large audience to sell their products to. Dorna can't build an audience because they won't let anyone get a glimpse of their sport unless they pay for it. The only people who pay for it are the people who already like it. So the audience stays the same.

Just like the money.

Total votes: 51

@ghostdog6 I'm sorry but

@ghostdog6
I'm sorry but you're just repeating the same argument - 'if you get more people watching you'll build the audience and make more money'. True to some extent but the web doesn't work as simply as 'build it and they will come with money'. That's why more and more media companies are going with subscriptions and paywalls. They've done the figures and decided that a smaller, paying readership is more valuable than a larger readership that gets the content for free, solely funded by an advertising model that doesn't produce enough money to sustain it. They have learnt the lesson after cannibalising their newspaper/mainstream media readership too much by reproducing the content for free on the web (though that's not the entire economic picture - in print media the demise of classifieds, job ads etc has also played a big part).

It's simply not true that Dorna "won't let people have a glimpse of their sport without paying". In a number of countries it's on free-to-air, though that depends on local rights of course, and Dorna have their own YouTube channel as well where shows like After the Flag are posted. I reckon they could do more with their YouTube channel but I am completely unsurprised that they want to exercise control over _their own content_, sell the TV rights to the best buyer in each market and then protect the interests of those buyers.

@andanotherthing
"No it isn't."

Wow, you shot me down in flames there ...

Total votes: 53

You're still confusing the

You're still confusing the full race broadcast with short clips, behind the scenes stuff, and all the little things the media or fans might film during a race weekend. Dorna cracking down on that kind of thing is completely separate from them cracking down on a full, free race broadcast. You seem to be zeroing in on the race broadcasts only, and that's not what we're really talking about here.

The problem is increasing the audience for MotoGP. To do so, you need to reach people who don't already know about MotoGP. There are millions of those people on Facebook, Twitter, whatever that are friends with people who are already MotoGP fans. But, Dorna systematically removes any content that the fans might share with the non-fans of the sport - thus making it very hard to reach the non-fan. A sport's biggest asset for growth is it's existing fanbase - people who love the sport and want to talk about it and introduce what they love to other people. Dorna takes away the tools a fan can use to spread the sport.

We're not talking about giving away the full content for free. You need a teaser, a taste that can generate interest among non-fans. A non-fan isn't going to sit down to watch a 45 minute race anyway, free or not, without having first somehow gained an interest in doing so.

Advertising. Commercials. That's what we're talking about here. MotoGP doesn't make Sportscenter, it isn't on the evening news, doesn't make it into the newspaper. There are no commercials for it on Speed let alone a mainstream channel. GP fans are happy to give Dorna free advertising via social media, but Dorna won't let them.

If you expect to support your sport on the paychecks of your fans alone, you're doing it wrong.

Total votes: 58

or a bit of fun

the perspective depends on the size of the chip on your shoulder, I guess.

Total votes: 42

It's All About The Money

I think Dorna are living in a corporate land paved with gold! In a time when circuits cannot afford to host MotoGP races, racers cannot afford to race, attendance numbers are down and the fans that want to go and see their heroes and support the sport are being put off by high ticket and merchandise prices - surely using the social network world to promote the sport would be an obvious direction to take? Maybe Ezpeleta needs to spend a race weekend on a typical fans budget?!

Total votes: 59

No offense to anyone but if I

No offense to anyone but if I hear "social media" once more today I am going to vomit.

I loathe Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and anything that comes in the future that is similar. There are some of us, although not many, who want to do our best to keep our personal life off the internet. I do occasionally jump on twatter to read rider's comments or see pics they post, but generally don't participate and over 99% of the time can't be bothered. It's why I come here to keep up to date with the latest news. Again no offense to anyone...if you enjoy these sites go for it. I'd rather come here, or the many other racing news sites, even if that means reading information second hand.

I understand this argument from both sides. For someone like Emmett, these newer tools are excellent, as they are for any journalist. My problem with them is the shit they start (non MC racing related) and I see as many problems with them as positives.

Dorna has every right to try to ban their content from free sites. Somehow, over the last decade to decade in a half, it seems acceptable to steal content. Whether that be music (I know people who struggle to survive because their hard work is recorded, copied, etc, to which they don't receive a dime) or film via torrents, software, races, what have you. The modern society is producing a plethora of people who are cheap and don't want to pay for anything. These folks think that there is nothing wrong with downloading copyrighted content for free. To many of us, this is stealing, no different than walking in a brick and mortar and stuffing something in your shirt/pants. Stealing is stealing, so I understand Dorna's policies. Imo, thieves should be shot.

On the other hand, social media, and the cesspool that it is, is here to stay. You've got younger folks who don't know anything else as they can't recall a time without these sites.

It is a perplexing issue that I see all sides of without a clear answer. Clearly a business, in this case Dorna, has the right to try and limit their content for free as the deals they strike with TV companies in their respective countries, deserve this exclusive content because they pay millions for it. The flip side, is exposure to the cheap asses who refuse to pay for anything and would rather sit behind their mighty keyboard and devour vast amounts of copyrighted content for the price of their internet connection.

This is a problem we face in the US. WSBK doesn't offer a package like MotoGp does, for online viewing of the races. I can get a new channel, called Bein, and pay an extra $25 a month for access to it ($300 a year? Really?), watch via proxy (Eurosport), go to "that site" and look for a torrent, or simply not watch. None of these options are appealing. I have money in my hand ready to send WSBK for online streaming of the races a la WSBK but they won't accept it. What to do?

Total votes: 56

i understand your

i understand your opinion/feelings, i do.. but before generalising so much and calling anyone that downloads freely a cheap ass, consider at least the interested people in the non-developed non-first-world countries...i am from india, for your reference...since everything costs in US dollars or pounds or euros, i hope you understand how non-rich people in these countries JUST CAN NOT AFFORD to buy each and everything they like..hell, most common people can barely afford anything that is worth several euros or dollars..a single music CD costs like 30-40 dollars at least including shipping, thats about a month's worth of food cost for a hostel-living guy like me..i cant even order some book who's actual cost is say 10-20 dollars but shipping (slowest and the most standard one) adds 30 dollars..

i am extremely into motogp and so i pay 100 euros every year out of my meagre grad student savings because i want to watch it all...would do the same for WSBK too if and when dorna starts streaming the races on the wsbk site...

and perhaps most importantly, without the era of internet and its open and free, albeit mostly "illegal", sharing, i would not have come to know about or even properly try getting into any of the unconventional things that i am into...motogp or professional racing in general (in this country of cricket and conventionality, i had no idea there were serious championships on racing until i was 15 or so when by sheer accident of random browsing of the internet, the internet led me to it), european classical music, old rock and metal music (forget death metal which is my favorite, i'd have not been able to explore even heavy metal and 70s rock beyond the usual ultra-famous bands), old noir and western films, access to so many books on the subjects of my interest shared illegally (i only have a fraction of them, usually only the ones that have an asian or indian edition at affordable price instead of ridiculous (for poor people like us) prices of the order of 80-100 USD usually..so on and so on...and this goes for almost everyone here..and i am not even a poor person by indian standards, just a common middle-class guy that rides a 150cc yamaha YZF-R15 v2.0

thank the internet gods for allowing this phenomena of open sharing..else lives of people like me would have been so boring, and we'd have led our whole lives being ignorant of so many shit this world has to offer to those who are want to explore beyond their local world (my local world has no racing fans or fans of any of those things that i am into).

i still might be a cheap ass taking advantage of those who work hard to make music or make movies and so on, but if i were not a cheap ass and waited for money god to fill me with thousands of euros and dollars, i'd have not been able to get into anything and all those people who worked hard to make their stuff that i illegally took access to would have had one less fan and appreciator.

from next time, please do consider the boon of open free-market sharing for the people from 2nd and 3rd world countries before generalising..they also have passions and interests you know..what they dont have is their country's currency not being in euros and dollars, or anything comparable to them, but rather 1 USD or 1 euro = 55 or 65 indian ruppee.

Total votes: 49

I'm in the if you don't have

I'm in the if you don't have the money then you wait until you do crowd. When i was at university I couldn't afford a sportbike and had to wait until I could afford one. I didn't steal one because I didn't have the patience to wait until I could afford one. I don't go into a Ferrari dealership and demand to go driving for free because I can't afford to.

I am not trying to start an argument with you but don't try to justify stealing. It will fall on deaf ears especially admitting that you steal copyrighted film and music.

Total votes: 59

almost everyone in this part

almost everyone in this part of the world has to steal if they want to get into something...music, films, whatever...accept it unless you dont want people in this part of the world to get to know anything.

i waited and saved a lot of money over the years too in order to be able to buy a sportbike or be able to afford all these regular merchandise purchasing i do every once in a while...still cant do it as much as a normal european guy, with an equal interest in things as me, does..

the standard amount of a grad student stipend in india is about 300-350 USD..again, this only for your reference on how low the number is in comparison to the scale of things all priced in euros and USD.

it's not about trying to justify stealing, it's about trying to show its necessity...there's such a thing as poor thieves and rich thieves who can afford stuff but still wanna steal...it's still thieving but there's a moral and psychological difference.

anyway

Total votes: 63

Something that isn't stealing...

@yamahaR15

If you want some racing streamed online free of charge - check out the Red Bull Rookies cup, run at selected MotoGP races

Live stream and the on demand replays free of charge to all, and a fair bit of freely shared social media snippets to boot.

http://www.redbull.com/cs/Satellite/en_INT/Red-Bull-Rookies-Cup/00124296...

And I'm sure Red Bull would be very happy for you to share with everyone.

Total votes: 56

I'd be happy to watch that if

I'd be happy to watch that if I could tell one rider from another.

Total votes: 63

What you are describing is

What you are describing is justified theft, nothing more. A thief is a thief, cyber or otherwise.

Since when did movies, film, or racing become a necessity? I thought you needed air, water, food, and shelter.

Total votes: 62

alright then. you clearly

alright then. you clearly dont want to change your frame of reference for once just for perspective. perhaps it's because being in a first world country (i assume so, for all i know though you are from another 3rd world country like me) you'd never be objectively able to see it from our side of the world and you see it from a one-angled black-and-white viewpoint :) that's ok, perhaps i'd have done the same if i was in a first world country who's currency is also one of the international business currencies.

i wonder though if the world economy and exchange rates and so on were to reverse right just now, and you see what a huge huge disparity there is between the economies that you cant even buy a book or two on an internationally priced webstore without hesitation of how much it's emptying your bank and that a single purchase of a couple of CDs or books is a significant percentage of your whole month's salary, what would you do ? not pursue your interests and wait to get rich enough (which realistically would never happen. at best one can save some money to buy a few selected things), or just entirely ignore your interests because they are not the basic necessities of life, or take it from the internet if it's available and maybe perhaps buy some of it later if and when you can ?

Total votes: 53

When I was in college I

When I was in college I didn't receive a "stipend", I worked, full time. I did not have the money for cd's, films, etc, so I did not participate. My mind was on my studies and work, and that's it, because that is what it should have been on. I could have downloaded free, illegal content, and used my poor, broke, college student self, for justification but I didn't. I waited until I could afford such things through salary at a job in my field. I chose not to be a thief even though classmates were hammering napster every day. I wanted no part of thievery.

The younger generation, no matter what country, expects things to be free. "I'll just download it on the internet." Newsflash, if you want something, whatever it is, go work for it instead of being a thief. I should know, I've worked since I was very young and have paid my way through life with no stipend.

Nice try though.

Total votes: 65

When you were in college

... how much were you earning per hour, and how does that compare to the average wage of someone working in Mumbai or Delhi? 

Total votes: 63

Cheap shot

David that's a cheap shot and you know it. The point of your article was never a moral one, that people in poorer countries should be allowed to watch MotoGP for free because they're poor. The point is whether or not Dorna have the right to try and enforce their content ownership.

I don't care whether the guy in the third-world country steals MotoGP content or not. I don't care whether YOU steal MotoGP content. But don't try and construct some sort of morality or social justice paradigm around people doing so.

Total votes: 47

The Real Cheap Shot Artist

. . . is what you see when you look in the mirror. You are the one that openly said you were going to copy David's article to your blog, not offering to post a linkback or anything. In fact, scoffing that idea, indirectly.

David was simply pointing out to BrickTop that there's a BIG difference in costs & incomes when you compare the United States to India or many other third world countries. Approximately 10% of the average income here, yet, as yamahaR15 stated, his cost on a book or CD there is much more than here in the states (300-400%). Partially due to shipping costs.

Unbeknownst to most Americans (as well as many others), the reality of the situation is quite different in many parts of the world than it is here, stateside. Hard work and talent in those parts doesn't necessarily bring you financial stability and thus the "luxury" of having things like a cd or book without great sacrifice, such as food or other necessities.

Judging something or someone without being in their circumstances/"shoes" only leads to conjecture and fantasy, not reality. BrickTop speaks of the want of the younger generation to have everything given to them. While I appreciate and agree with that sentiment, the bigger problem facing the US is the overabundance of arrogance & greed that now permeates our country, among others.

Speaking of reality, DORNA is clueless about using modern technology to enhance it's product. It's sad to watch those that steer the ship, send it careening towards a very large reef, where it will wither and die from a fatal & futile barrage of technical rules. Which only serves to whittle down those that can compete.

Total votes: 44

Record companies stole from

Record companies stole from me for years. Buy a $15 cassette or CD on the strength of one song and find out that the one song is the only good one on the album. Can't take it back once you take the wrapper off. That's stealing too, so don't feel too sorry for the copyright holders.

Total votes: 52

And yet you kept

And yet you kept buying the cassettes and CDs? More fool you, caveat emptor and all that.

Total votes: 53

Yeah, and there's another

Yeah, and there's another saying: what goes around comes around.

Total votes: 57

And younger countries too

Not just younger generations of people, but younger countries - in terms of their state of development. Many developing countries tend to go light on respecting copyright, patents, etc., particularly foreign ones, to allow themselves to develop quickly and catch up. When they're well developed and start to discover/create a lot of these things themselves then they, amazingly, start to take these abstract rights seriously.

And guess what, the USA was no exception to this. It ignored foreign (European, e.g.) patent rights in the 19th century. At least a few people who are famous in the US as "inventors", were actually copiers who stole ideas from abroad and brought them back to the USA.

Total votes: 48

The important thing about

The important thing about stealing is that you're taking something away from someone. If I steal your car, you don't have your car anymore. If I copy your song, you still have your song. Calling copyright infringement theft confuses the issue. I personally make a living off of Intellectual Property. I'm not anti-copyright and I have many problems with how freely people infringe copyright but it's not theft.

Total votes: 69

not commenting on

i'm not commenting on the ethics of downloading and whether its considered theft but it is different than stealing physical goods. infinite copys can be made so the owner is loosing potential income they arent loosing actualy money used tp produce. a ferrari costs X. if taken the owner loses that value and possible profit from the sale.

one might argue that downloaders wouldnt purchase anyway so they arent actually lossing the potential for profit. definitely a complicated discussion with a few angles. this world is rarely black and white.....

any not taking a stand eitherway, just saying.

Total votes: 58

Goods vs. Intellectual Property

Goods and intellectual property are fundamentally different.

Many societies consider private property rights (tangible) to be a natural concept; therefore, ownership rights are indelible and protected by natural law as well as the legal system.

Societies are more divided regarding the natural law of real estate ownership. The natural rights of the individual to own property are granted by the state in varying degrees depending upon where you live, and interpretation by society of economic paradigms like real estate scarcity and speculation.

Ideas and intellectual property are different still. There is no natural law that suggests the human brain should not be allowed to absorb information or ideas that were learned from another source. Furthermore, there is no natural law to suggests humans shouldn't be allowed to duplicate and share ideas without profit. So the privileges of the intellectual property holder are granted almost entirely by the state, and those rights are granted only to encourage investment and innovation. Some exceptions exist, like the formula for Coca Cola, which is a trade secret.

What's actually going on is that countries are fining and jailing their citizens under the pretense that it is better to create thieves with patents than to let the creator go unrewarded for his societal contribution. The degree to which this strategy should be pursued is a fundamentally different discussion than theft of tangible personal property. Mitigating the societal rancor of intellectual property enforcement is paramount to ensuring the societal good of intellectual property law.

If intellectual property is pirated by millions or billions of consumers, there is a very good chance that the price is improperly set and the owner is using legal privileges to restrict supply and pursue a business model that shifts the balance of surplus in his favor (not necessarily profit). Protection for these types of business practices is highly dependent on the circumstance.

If the man who invented the cup had earned a non-expiring patent for his contributions, we might all be drinking out of bowls, like dogs.

Total votes: 58

?

again not that im on one side or another but is it stealing if someone gives it to you, willing to share it? breaking into dorna's site and viewing or copying, sure. theft all day long but if logged onto to a side where someone is "sharing" it is the question. it wasnt taken from anyone not willing to share it. someone stole it somewhere or maybe paid for it.

i personally watch it on the commonly hated speed channel so it's paid for indirectly. can i not copy it on my PVR and watch it over and over, which i do...? if i already had it can i not download it elsewhere also without commercials?

also the question of legality is dependant on location, its not illeagal everywhere. the question is more about is it moral? not a cut and dry answer, i think.

the main point of the artical, i gathered, should it be behind the paywall? interesting points of view though and all valid

Total votes: 46

copyright violation is slightly different to theft

If you take a Ferrari from a dealership, the dealership no longer has the Ferrari. There is no way for you to posses the Ferrari without either paying the dealership, or depriving them of the car's value.

This isn't true with copyright violation. By definition this covers copying - not the transfer of property (though, there are of course issues at the intersection between the two areas, e.g. first sale doctrine). The original owner is not deprived of the possession or use of the article - they still retain it. The person with the copy CAN possess/use the copy without affecting the copyright holder in any way. E.g. in situations where the copyright holder simply has no interest in serving that market at all, and the monetary value of the work is not diluted by copying there (ignoring any more abstract questions about what happens to respect for copyright generally).

Not making any value judgement. However, it is simply factually incorrect to equate copyright violations with the theft of physical property. Any consideration that simply assumes they are the same thing must therefore be a flawed one.

Total votes: 61

Excellent article

Great read, even got some good comments to the article. I was waiting for someone to say what you have just said. There is nothing wrong with showing highlights for free. It creates a buzz. If people want to see more, then more than likely they will pay for cable or a website that offers it. The problem with Dorna is they seem to lack the ability to build a buzz. World Superbike is more fun to watch for someone that is a lightweight fan because you see more action. Nascar is the laughing stock of pure racing enthusiast around the world, but they trump many sports in amount of MONEY they bring in because they know how to market their sport. I have tried to watch NASCAR but I fall asleep each and everytime. But if you watch videos they post or the highlights they show, you would think these were nailbiting races from beginning to end.

Social Media can be sickening in the "Look at me I need some attention!", kind of way some people can use it for. But to promote the sport, or anything for that matter, there is very little that beats it. Here in the US, you can see those for all the big sports here, NFL, Football, Baseball, and NASCAR without having to pay for it. But it gets people to watch.

Regulations are very important, but that route seems to be a little worn out IMHO. More focus needs to be on marketing and focusing on the action in the races, less on restricting this or that. Except with the restrictions on video or whatever violates copyright ownerships.

That said, I am going to stop before I write a damn book on inner feelings about Dorna and way they have hurt my hear through disappointment. ;)

Total votes: 51

What about the sponsors?

What about the sponsors? Are they happy with this closed and controlled environment for their sponsoring money? If I'm sponsoring a team I would love my brand to reach millions, not thousands. I would love my brand to go viral, not to keep its reach to the usual viewers, I'd love to see my brand on a bike on posters, videos, blogs, fan forums, personal pages, social media, merchandise, etc.

After Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha became champions, they struggled to get a title sponsor and money was limited to what the Yamaha corporation decided to give. Many blamed Lorenzo as he lacked the charisma that Vale brought for so many years. I blame Dorna's control freak attitude that scares sponsors to put money in a business that knows how to take, but not how to give.

Total votes: 66

We have a winner! I've seen

We have a winner!

I've seen what happens when copyrighted material that includes prominent mention of sponsors is lifted and reproduced and distributed. Guess who wasn't at all angry? The sponsors! As the law professor I spoke to said (I will paraphrase), "Yeah, it's illegal, but it's hard to imagine any company being upset that their marketing efforts and their logos are being even MORE widely distributed."

Problem for Dorna is the same as the copyright holder in the situation above: They don't get a personal cut of the additional action. What Dorna is hearing is this: Let us use your product (motorcycle GP racing) for our personal or professional use for free, and down the road, it'll be better for you, we're pretty sure. Offer Dorna a cut - immediately - of revenues generated by social media sharing, and they'll jump on board, I suspect.

Last thought on this topic: I read the story on the NASCAR fan zone media monitoring thing a long time ago. But it was under a different title, and the author was George Orwell ...

Total votes: 50

Race footage/video clips is a moving target

What Dorna and anyone else needs to appreciate is that race footage has a rapidly changing value in the space of a few days. At the time of the race and maybe up to a day after the full race footage is a valuable commodity. After the event, it becomes ancient history extremely quickly. I own a bunch of end-of-season review DVDs of MotoGP, WSB and BSB and they produce a tiny fraction of the excitement of watching something live as it's happening, because we know what has happened. They are, compared to the live footage, probably a minority interest for the completist so once things have happened there's little point keeping them hidden away.

But the clips of the best bits are the sure-fire way to get the new punters in - show people a bit of what it is they should be tuning in for - so once the race has happened they might as well be out there, full quality rather than some dodgy rip from in front of the TV or whatever. Why on earth aren't those awesome Marquez opening laps out there?

Ditto if you can't afford the full coverage or live in a country with poor coverage, if you see a decent clip you might at least click the MotoGP website or look at team/sponsor pages. As we still exist in an advertising-revenue based world all these clicks must bring small benefit to those concerned, much more than the negligible financial downside of sticking some day-old footage on YouTube.

Likewise you don't want to limit riders and team folk on the social networks - I follow a ton of riders on Twitter and seeing their updates and banter, even on the mundane stuff, adds immeasurably to them as people beyond what we see on track. Racing is all about personalities and stories and surely the more you can add to that the better?

(oh, and if we're doing music industry comparison: some years a band just starting out stuck some MP3s of their demos up for free on their website for us all to listen to. Six months later the Arctic Monkeys were one of the biggest bands in Britain)

Total votes: 54

Meanwhile at COTA Dorna continue to show they're clueless

By not uploading bike footage to youtube, but instead a rental car?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duk7p4frb2Y

That might have been interesting last fall before anyone had driven on it but does anyone care now? Clueless.

Total votes: 46

Credit to Dorna

Don't know if it has been mentioned yet, but Dorna deserves some credit for posting full race replays on their Youtube channel. I know for sure they added Rossi's first win at Donnigton in 2000, and they've also added Assen 2002.

Not sure if their are others up, but this is a good sign, and I hope they continue adding classic races.

Total votes: 46

Jerez 1996..

..is another.

500 strokers. 100,000 Spanish fans baying for Doohans blood..
What more d'ya want?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkAKN1I-784

Total votes: 55

How can they use copyright law to take down self-recorded video

If they're using Googles' DMCA procedures to take down self-recorded video from Youtube, on the grounds of copyright violations, then Dorna may be abusing US law. Video you record yourself of an event is *YOUR* copyright. Dorna likely does NOT have copyright over spectator video of MotoGP races!

Dorna could try put something in the small print of tickets, that videoing is not allowed. But then any videos would contravene this contract - NOT copyright. Dorna could even try claim in the small print that spectators assign any copyright to Dorna, however such terms might not hold up in the US or in the country where the event is held. Anyone got example ticket small print handy?

Total votes: 61

finally...

This article (and the impending season) goaded me into becoming a site supporter. Not just me but I pulled along my best friend too. We have trolled too long without recompense. Thank you David for your insightful commentary on the sport we love!

On topic with the article, I hope Dorna sees the light and puts out the subscription WSBK package the Flamminis never did. And stops quashing free sharing of the exciting bits of races. Or adds their own sanctioned sharable clips. I think anything to aid in getting eyeballs to this sport helps.

Total votes: 48

reply to indestructibleman

Of course you are entitled to your opinion but I feel the black and white view you set up as opposing arguments of either/or are what, ultimately, supports Dorna's position: That either downloaders/posters/clips etc are robbing officially sanctioned providers of income. This perception misses the point, as I read it, of the article, in that getting caught up in philosophical conversations of whether it is theft or not is pointless and old fashioned in it's perceptions- it is not a question of whether or not people would or wouldn't pay for coverage if they didn't have the snippets but rather that those snippets (considered theft or not) can only add to greater exposure and in turn can only help the sport and therefore all commercial entities therein involved.

I'm not trying to insult or offend just noting the often quoted arguments re new media miss the point.

Total votes: 39

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