A Contract for Roller Derby Videography

I’ve been moving from photographing roller derby (which now so many people do that it’s difficult to believe that you’re adding value to the discourse) to videoing bouts over the last 6 months to a year. (Although the first whole bouts I ever videoed were for Team Scotland before the World Cup.)

As part of this, if I’m going to video a whole bout, which is usually arranged in advance with the host league, I tend to give both attending leagues copies of a “bout DVD” – a post-produced version of the footage with additional toggleable overlays (Period/Jam indicator, scoreline, jammer names and status), credits etc. In return, I’ve been assuming that those leagues might allow me to put my own footage up on the internet for others to see.

As it happens, at least in the UK, policy on video footage of bouts seems to be highly embryonic and variable amongst leagues. (Compare to the USA, where the Top 10 leagues in each of the old Regions have huge amounts of their footage online, and extensive policies regarding video footage.) I’ve encountered positions all the way from “please put everything online as soon as possible – we want to be able to show people it” to “please don’t put footage online at all, for at least period X” (where X has been anything from a month to a year). And of course, there are the leagues who don’t have a policy on video at all, and need to consider what that policy is before responding (which is entirely reasonable, I should say). Of course, strictly, the footage is my own and I could do whatever I wanted with it, but in the interests of fairness and derby community spirit, I try to stick to the wishes of the leagues I’ve videoed at any particular point.

However, over time, as I’ve collected more footage, and interacted with more leagues, and as some leagues’ policies have evolved, it has become more difficult to manage all the conflicting positions that exist.

As a result, and also in an attempt to provide a basis for some kind of harmonisation of policy, I am reluctantly establishing a formal contract regarding video work I perform at bouts. I really dislike having to make this kind of step, as I feel it in some way tarnishes the derby community ethic, but recent events have made other approaches untenable.

So, effective from June 2nd (because it’s unfair to force Dundee and Swansea to respond to this kind of thing at less than 24 hours’ notice):

The Formal Contract of Video Work (version 1)


League A is the host League, the League who has hired and organised the venue for the Bout.

The Bout is one or more consecutively held contests of the sport of Roller Derby (as defined under WFTDA or other commonly accepted rule-sets), held in the venue organised by League A.

Leagues B are the other League or Leagues involved in the contests comprising the Bout.

The Videographer is the Person responsible for operating video recording machinery, engaged to record the Bout for League A.

The Reproduction is a processed account of the Bout, arranged from footage recorded by the Videographer.

Section A

I, the Videographer, being requested to video a Bout hosted by League A, and featuring other Leagues B, will endeavour, to the best of my ability (limited by equipment failure, and acts outside of my control) to capture a complete and representative record of the events of the Bout. The League A accepts that this will require the Videographer to establish a position allowing a good view of the playing area and the scoreboard, and that the Videographer may require equipment, for example a tripod, to enable quality footage to be captured. The League A additionally accepts that this may require the Videographer to enter the hall containing the playing area before the Audience arrives, in order to set up. The Videographer accepts that there will be limitations on the positioning of his equipment for safety and other reasons, and will endeavour to minimise disruption to both the Bout and the Audience by the placement of his equipment. The League A also accepts that this record may not include footage of Time-Outs or other periods when Play of the Bout is suspended – it will, minimally, endeavour to cover all Jams in all Periods of the Bout.

Section B

After the Bout is completed, the Videographer will endeavour to produce a processed, high-quality Reproduction of the Bout’s events (with consideration of the issues raised in Section D), including additional enhancements at his discretion, in a format acceptable to the League A and Leagues B (but limited to reasonable formats, and defaulting to DVD-Video). Copies of this Reproduction will be made available to all participating Leagues (A and B), in reasonable numbers (1 to 3 per league).

Section C

At a reasonable Delay after the date of the Bout, the full bout footage (sans footage covered under Section D) will be made available on the Public Internet, on a video hosting platform of the Videographer’s choice. (At present, this is YouTube.) The Delay will be the longest of all Delays requested by the involved Leagues A and B; each League may request a Delay of a maximum of 8 calendar weeks or the day after the next public bout featuring their represented team, whichever is shorter. Longer delays may be requested in exceptional circumstances, but should be robustly argued for.

Other than the public release, no other copies of the footage will be made available to any groups or individuals other than Leagues A and B, except with the permission of Leagues A and B.

In the event that the Bout is a “Closed Bout”, not open to the public, Section C is waived, and bout footage will not be made public unless with the agreement of all Leagues A and B.

Section D

In the event of injury occurring to a skater during the bout, or other exceptional events, the Videographer will obey the current standard of behaviour undertaken in the Derby Community: he will cease recording at the point that the injury (or other circumstance) becomes evident (e.g. when the jam is signalled to an early halt due to injury on the track, or other reasonable indications), and not resume recording footage (except for incidental footage not including the Bout itself – for example, the Announcers entertaining the crowd) until the Bout itself resumes formally.

The Reproductions provided to the Leagues A and B will include all footage recorded by the Videographer, except in the exceptional case that the recorded footage involving an injury is particularly traumatic (in which case, the Videographer will make the footage available to the home League of the injured skater and defer to their position on the footage’s inclusion), or exceptional cases where non-Bout-related footage includes matter which should be elided for legal or other reasons. In all cases, the Leagues A and B will be provided with reasoning for the elision of all removed footage containing material involving the Bout itself.  The Public copy of the footage will, by default, have jams containing a traumatic event such as an injury requiring stoppage of the bout excised from the record. (The home League of the injured skater reserves the right to make a different decision on the disposition of the footage, if they so wish).

Any comments on this draft contract are gratefully received: this is, of course, a work in progress.


About aoanla

Aoanla is a physicist/systems support guy for the UK bit of the LHC experiment at CERN in real life, and therefore already had some experience in looking at high-speed collisions before getting into roller derby. He writes bout reports for the bouts he turns up to on his own blog, but is now planning on writing articles and bugging people for interviews here, too.
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