How the Race was Ripped-Off

Mar 31 2012

I think I may have surprised some people by not flying into an Internet rage yesterday when VeloNews launched a familiar-looking video feature with a not entirely unique name.


htrww title card

In happier times.


My magnanimous response not withstanding, I should clarify that I’m not psyched about the development. Indeed, there was a time when I would have let fly the dogs of Internet War over such a slight—and that time was two years ago. I lived in Boston, had my own apartment, could pedal office-to-doorstep in about 20 minutes, got paid enough to buy decent computer hardware, and could reliably turn out sharply-edited video recaps of European bike races 24-48 hours after they wrapped up.

But it’s not 2010 anymore. I got word of the VeloNews post this morning where I spend most of my mornings these days—in a car, on an Interstate, trying not to think about how much longer I have to drive, or the fact that pretty soon, I’d have to turn around and head back the other way. It’s not a routine I’m particularly fond of, but as things stand, it’s the life I wake up to every morning. Suffice it to say, it isn’t getting any videos made.

And that’s the important thing, here—there are tactically focused race-recap videos in production again. They might not be as nifty as mine, but they’re covering races that happened in the past two weeks—I haven’t done anything in the past two years.

While it may well be that biting the style, name, and idea of someone else’s work without so much as a hat-tip is a dick thing to do (you certainly wouldn’t get any argument form me on that point), it is far more of a dick move to pitch a fit because someone else decided they wanted to revive or reuse something cool that you created, but for whatever reason, aren’t pursuing to the fullest.

In fact, one of the most maddening aspects of doing How the Race Was Won came about 12-24 hours after posting each new video, when some minion of the ASO would invariably file a takedown request with YouTube because he or she felt like my reusing two minutes of one six-hour stage of a 21-day race without kissing their pinky ring was somehow doing them wrong.

In an ideal world, there’s no doubt in my mind that I could do (and have done) a sharper, funnier HTRWW than currently exists. But the fact is that right now, I can’t. And as irascible as I tend to be, I just can’t justify venting any of that rage toward people who can. The best I can hope for is that sometime in the future, I’ll get the chance to remind everyone else exactly how it’s supposed to be done.

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12 Responses to “How the Race was Ripped-Off”

  1. paul 31 March 2012 at 10:06 am #

    interesting take.

    your htrww series was great and i hope it returns someday.

  2. joran 31 March 2012 at 10:42 am #

    You’re mellowing in your old age, Cosmo. I find this both heartening, and a little sad.

    I really hope you find something that doesn’t require all that driving.

  3. Bo L 31 March 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Cosmo, mimicry/impersonation is the greatest form of flattery. It is fair to be upset about the fact that they used your idea without giving you due credit, but lately, Velonews has been losing (firing) their best and most creative. In the world of corporate bleaching, slim budgets, and maximizing profits at any expense; this is the best they could come up with.

    To be honest, I saw the headline and thought you had a new employer. I immediately clicked the link hopeful to hear your voice and commentary.

    I just searched VN, and I can’t find the video. I hope people don’t lose their jobs for this. RKP might not have space for everyone.

  4. Joe 31 March 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Very gracious, Cosmo

    On the plus side, should you start doing it again, they’d have a tough time sending YOU a cease and desist letter! Might even help fighting the takedown notices… Maybe you should find out how they get their footage ok’d and again, tough job telling you you can’t do it if they’ve let velo news rip you off.

  5. Larry T. 1 April 2012 at 4:35 am #

    Don’t let the idea that this only happened because you are no longer doing it fool you – these types of folks have no shame. We’ve been offering “pedala forte, mangia bene!” (ride hard, eat well) cycling tours in Italy since 1998 but have watched all kinds of people come along since then to claim they invented the concept. But as the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” so all you can do is take some pleasure in the fact that you had a good idea…good enough for others to steal.

  6. Jerome 1 April 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Cosmo you should do what cyclingtips has done with rapha and inner ring with cyclingnews and sort out a way to get funds in for the work you do, im sure there has to be a team/company/cycling organization that understands that your videos are amazing for pro cycling and that an ad or sponsorship of them would be beneficial. Love your work, keep your head up :)

  7. MiglooTeacher 2 April 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Dude, I feel sorry for you that you are not in a position to do the vids you used to, but that’s just it… You don’t do them now.

    I have never seen either your vids or these new ones, but that’s really beside the point. You need to get over this hating within the cycling community.

    Sure they may be using the same name and similar format you used to use. If they aren’t doing it as good as you, why not offer help, or offer to do the vids for them (at a price).

    Just don’t go round complaining that someone takes on your idea when you left it behind 2 years ago. Time to move up or move on.

    I hope you find some peace… And some cycle time.

  8. Scott 2 April 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    I miss them dearly. Just pulled up a classic… “Passed on the cobbles by a Euskadel guy….ouch”. (2010 PR. Fantstic Job!!) Hope it returns some day. Great combination of knowledge and wit; two things sadly lacking at the new VN.

  9. james 2 April 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Another great admirer of HTRWW. I’ve always used HTRWW to illustrate to the lay person why a bike race is actually fun to watch and not just about peddling fast.
    Hope one day you will resume these.

  10. Timo 3 April 2012 at 4:59 am #

    You get a cheeky mention in the latest VeloNews HTRWW:Tour of Flanders.

    I have to say that as big a fan as I was of the Cyclocosm HTRWW series, I much prefer the Chinese knock-off feeling VeloNews version over nothing at all.

  11. James 3 April 2012 at 5:54 am #

    CLIPPING CLIPPING CLIPPING

    They need to learn to record audio. And edit video, too. They have ripping off Cosmo’s format but failed to match his standard of production, which is pretty embarrassing considering they are professionals and Cosmo was only ever a part-timer.

  12. Touriste-Routier 3 April 2012 at 9:01 am #

    @MiglooTeacher Theft if intellectual property is theft of intellectual property, regardless of whether it is dormant or active, purposeful or accidental.

    VeloNews should no better. I am sure they wouldn’t stand for someone co-opting one of their columns.

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