Vimeo Sued For Lip Dub Videos

from the ah,-copyright-law dept

Three years ago, video hosting site Vimeo got a lot of attention for itself with a “recruiting” video of sorts that was one of the first popular “lip dub” videos, which are now quite popular. In it, pretty much the entire Vimeo staff is seen singing and dancing to the song Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger. However, it looks like that particular lip dub may now get Vimeo, and parent firm InterActive Corp. in a bit of trouble. Copycense points us to a new lawsuit filed against Vimeo by Capitol Records (really, EMI) alleging copyright infringement. The way they’re getting around the DMCA safe harbors and the Veoh ruling is pointing to Vimeo’s own lip dubs and its apparent encouragement that others should make lip dubs as well. Of course, it’s difficult to argue that lip dubs damage the labels in any way. The popular lip dubs seem to do a lot to expand the recognition of a song and an artist, and some musicians have been known to encourage such things. But, of course, that’s not how the major record labels tend to view things…

Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

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Companies: capitol records, emi, vimeo

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Comments on “Vimeo Sued For Lip Dub Videos”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

News from August 31, 1920...

Conversation between two music executives…

Young guy: Have you heard the news, there’s this new thing called radio. They’re going to play and promote our music for free. People will start buying our music by the bushel.

Old idiot: Free?! So they’re not paying us anything?

Young guy: No, you don’t get it. They’re giving us free advertising. People across the nation will hear our label’s music and will buy it. We’ll make a fortune!

Old idiot: I don’t know, we’d better have the lawyers file a lawsuit against this “radio.” It sounds like they’re leaching off of our hard work.

Young guy: No, you’re still not getting it. Right now no one is hearing our music. We have to spend a fortune promoting our artists to get the word out, but these radio folks will do it for free. We’ll make more money if we let them play it.

Old idiot, on phone to legal department: Have you guys heard about this new thing called radio? I want you guys to sue them into the ground. In fact, sue the individual owners personally too, because they’re just as guilty.

Young guy: Face palms in disbelief.

Ima Shrimp says:

Re: News from August 31, 1920...

Old Idiot: Just remember, when you give everything away for free and you have nothing left to sell, all the advertising in the world ain’t worth a pinch of crap.

Young guy: What do you mean?

Old Idiot: If we don’t get any income, you lose your job fool.

Young Guy facepalms in understanding of his situation.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: News from August 31, 1920...

when you give everything away for free…

Thanks for succinctly explaining the logical fallacy of the straw-man argument.

I made an argument about how radio helps artists. You know, how radio helped Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Abba sell billions of records.

Well, you ignored that argument and brought up a very weak argument that I never raised, that if you give away everything for free, you get nothing. But, like I said, while that’s certainly true, the contrary was never argued by me.

Matthew says:

Ima Fish has this about right. Truth be told, I imagine that the rights holders are legally justified in doing this. As far as infringement goes, this is very probably a legitimate case. (unlicensed, for commercial gain) That doesn’t mean it’s good business sense. There’s a false mindset out there that it’s always most profitable to defend a copyright whenever it is legally possible to do so.

cc says:

It seems EMI are _really_ standing at the end of the abyss right now—they’re about to default on over 2.5bn of debt and Terra Firma (their ironically-named owner) is begging everyone to give them money so EMI can stay afloat. If they don’t get the money, we’ll see many jobs lost and what remains of the business going to… Citigroup (who they made sure to sue a few days ago, in the hope they can force the bringers of their doom to keep them alive).

This is why I don’t find it at all strange that we see a lot of lawsuits coming from EMI’s direction. It’s an easy way to make lots of money fast, and if you think about it, suing Vimeo is a cut-and-dry case: just the vid you linked to has over 2m views! EMI doesn’t care if the lip dubs bring it recognition because they don’t bring it any cash.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

What if they did something similar to Rifftrax. Remove the audio and have the video just be of the lip syncing. Then, include a message that says “Play Song … NOW”, so the viewer’s own (legally purchased, of course) version of the song is playing with a silent video playing along side it.

While not addressing any points made, just thought that would be an interesting way to side-skirt the issue entirely. I doubt the video would have gotten 2mil views that way, but seems a lot more interesting than just having someone lip sync to a song … which seems rather boring to begin with.

TheOldFart (profile) says:


Okay I had heard the name Harvey Danger now and then but was not familiar with his/their work. I’m an old bastard but I listen to the local college radio station so my musical tastes don’t get stale or stuck in the 70’s. (Not that the 70’s is a bad place to get stuck, musically speaking but still…)

Now that I’ve seen the video, gonna go have a sniff at what else they’ve done and perhaps do something crazy like buy a f’n CD if I like what I hear enough to warrant blowing $15?

I hope that the fantastically ignorant twats at Capitol Records get everything they want. The sooner they get it all their way, the sooner the entire business (and hopefully the entire business model) will die off.

You know, the rip-the-band-aid-off model. Put up with an short period of pain where the RIAA gang gets it all their way and then they disappear with a brief whimper when all the artists and all the consumers go elsewhere looking for a model that actually works.

I doubt that I’m the only one who was introduced to a new band/artist today thanks to some high school kids having fun with one of their songs. Give a rat’s butt who gave them the inspiration (vimeo or the strange gruel served at the school lunch counter), the band gained a listener from the exposure.

Anonymous Coward says:

But, of course, that’s not how the major record labels tend to view things…

As is their right, just as it is a consumer’s right to take their business elsewhere if they do not like what any particular label is doing.

While you may suggest that they are being pennywise and pound foolish, they are certainly entitled to view such acts in a different light and proceed accordingly.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While you may suggest that they are being pennywise and pound foolish, they are certainly entitled to view such acts in a different light and proceed accordingly.

Indeed. Nor have I ever suggested otherwise. But in the same fashion, I am free to explain why doing so is a particularly shortsighted move.

I’m not sure what your comment means other than to suggest that I shouldn’t have even brought it up.

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