A major video hosting service is about to implement a copyright matching system that will block any video it deems unfit. The sites loyal users are angry.
Last time, it was YouTube. This time it’s Vimeo and both times people had a point. Here’s where I always have to say, I’m totally against theft. I believe people shouldn’t use other people’s work without their permission. (Photo: brainloc from rgbstock) However, determining what’s infringing and what isn’t is a complicated thing and not something a piece of software can determine with a simple audio match.
For Vimeo, it’s even more complicated because pros often use the site to house work for review by a client. These videos are private but Vimeo’s new system might not care. I say “might” because Vimeo is already backpedaling on their original announcement.
The trouble stems from the fact that Vimeo’s Copyright Match system will cut you off before you can even upload your video. That point isn’t made very clearly in the original blog post:
When you upload a video to Vimeo, Copyright Match “fingerprints” a sample of its audio to see if it matches that of certain third-party copyrighted material, such as songs, movies, and TV shows.
If we find a match, we’ll present you with a few simple options. If you believe your video follows our guidelines, you can quickly and easily appeal the match by providing Vimeo’s moderators with more information. You can tell us that you’re using the material with permission, that your use of the material is protected by “fair use” (more on that below), or that our Copyright Match system made a mistake.
You also have the option to replace the video file, delete the video, or, in the case where a music match is detected, swap the audio with a track from the Vimeo Music Store.
When asked for clarification in the comment section of the post, a staff member wrote this:
If the Copyright Match system detects third-party copyrighted material it will halt the upload and present you with a few options: appeal, swap out the music, or replace/delete the video file. If you choose to appeal, the video will be available for most users while the appeal is pending. If the appeal is denied, the video is deleted. We’ve worked hard to make the entire process as easy to use and efficient as possible, but we will definitely be happy for feedback once you’ve experienced it.
Oh, whoa. So when Jorge uploads the first edit of a commercial that includes a classic rock tune which his client paid to use, Copyright Match is going to grab that video and say no way Jorge.
Here comes the backpedal:
We want to support the creative process, and Copyright Match wasn’t intended to hinder these efforts. So we’re going to work on changing the system to better support this. While we work on this, we are going to temporarily suspend Copyright Match scanning for private videos in Plus/PRO accounts.
That should pacify they’re paying customers for now but the comments are still full of people who are ready to walk away the first time they’re stopped from uploading a video.
Vimeo’s general response is, if the machine messes up you can call a human to review your case. Who would that be? The intern at Vimeo who got stuck with the dirty job of answering the customer service line? Sounds like another lose-lose scenario.
Is there a better way? Probably not and that’s the problem. The legal side alone is complicated. No two judges agree on the meaning of fair use, so how is a a Vimeo employee going to get it right.
Going to be tough around the Vimeo offices for the next few weeks.