Is Vimeo Arbitrarily Taking Down Videos It Deems As 'Commercial'?

from the that-makes-no-sense dept

With Vimeo recently getting sued by EMI for supposedly encouraging infringement of their music in videos, it's interesting to note that Vimeo is apparently arbitrarily and ridiculously aggressive in cutting off anyone who uses the service for any sort of "commercial" purpose (found via Shocklee). The story is quite bizarre, but apparently Vimeo has buried in its terms of service that you can't use the service for commercial reasons -- though almost no one knows this. Yet, Vimeo itself seems to decide rather arbitrarily if your videos are commercial or not and then gives you a 24-hour notice to remove your videos. This is rather disappointing. Vimeo's player is actually quite nice (much nicer than YouTube's), and I've recommended many others to use its service. I had my own odd problem with Vimeo last year when for some unknown reason the company completely deleted my account and locked me out of using the service. Eventually they restored the account, but no explanation for the deletion was ever given (and it made me look bad, because I had been discussing stuff with someone, who then accused me of deleting my posts).

The other oddity is the claim that Vimeo says you cannot embed Vimeo videos on sites that show ads, as that's "commercial use." Once again, we get into the difficulty of figuring out what is commercial use? If I embed a Vimeo video in a blog post is that commercial use? This is a blog, but it's part of our business. Similarly, some of the speeches I've given in the past couple of years were put online using Vimeo. Are these "commercial use"? Are they then commercial use if I happen to embed the video in the blog? What if I embed someone else's video in this "commercial" blog? Like -- as we did with the Vimeo getting sued story -- embedded a video from Vimeo itself? It's nearly impossible to figure out what is and what's not commercial. About the only thing you can say is that you probably shouldn't use Vimeo for anything, because its policies appear to be totally arbitrary and prone to suddenly losing the videos you thought you had legitimately posted.

Filed Under: commercial, non-commercial, videos
Companies: vimeo

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Dec 2009 @ 10:48pm


    For those of you saying that commercial is an ambiguous term, I will put it this way -- if you are pursuing commercial ends, you tend to know it.

    Ok. So the musician who posts a video of him or herself on Vimeo: commercial or not?

    Me, posting Vimeo's own video on Techdirt through the embed function: commercial or not?

    Two separate for-profit conferences that I have spoken at in the past year posted all the videos from the event on Vimeo: commercial or not?

    Or hell, let's just take this situation. A few weeks back I embedded a Vimeo video here:

    It's a video for a song from Olafur Arnalds, a commercial musician (even if he doesn't like to talk about money), which suggests it's commercial use. But it was created by a fan. So, not commercial? But it's being promoted by Olafur and his label as the video for the song? Commercial. Plus I embedded it, and this is a "commercial" site, so commercial. But, of course, I'm not selling anything related to it or trying to make money for Olafur or the guy who created the video (not commercial).

    The list goes on and on, and it can be said for a very large percentage of the videos that you find on Vimeo.

    Hell, I just logged into Vimeo and went down the list of "recommended picks" and almost all of them are artists, musicians or content creators promoting their own stuff -- which is what they do for a living. Thus, commercial. All of 'em.

    To claim that there's some clear cut line is folly.

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