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Vimeo Updates Copyright Match Policy, Won't Scan Private Videos for Plus & PRO Members

05.24.14 @ 5:44PM Tags : , , ,

Vimeo Logo Black on WhiteUploading videos with copyright material that you don’t have permission to use has always been against Vimeo’s guidelines, but they just recently started a program called Copyright Match, which automatically flags any videos that have copyright material, even if you’ve licensed it. There have been many questions about the new program, and some legitimate cases where copyright flags could cause a serious nuisance, so they’ve temporarily decided to allow copyright material in private videos for Plus and PRO users. Click through to read more about it.

Here is the update to their Copyright Match policy, which is a temporary solution for the time being:

We understand that many Plus and PRO members use Vimeo professionally and they need to privately share videos for temporary client review prior to obtaining formal licensing.

We are working on building support for this use case into the Copyright Match system. Until then, private videos uploaded by Plus and PRO members will not be scanned by Copyright Match.

If you’re using Vimeo for this purpose, make sure you default new uploads to private from your Global Video Settings or set your videos to private while they’re uploading.

I’ve already said quite a bit about the decision to use an automatic copyright flagging service here, but it’s terrific that they are listening to users and adjusting their plans accordingly. This scenario was one that I actually thought would cause some of the biggest problems, especially as Vimeo is a very convenient way to upload rough cuts that contain copyright material that will eventually be removed in the final product, or will eventually be purchased/licensed when the client is happy. Considering YouTube is a completely free service, and Plus/PRO users are paying for their upload space, it’s a good move from Vimeo to support those users.

As a refresher, if your video is found to contain copyright material (besides the users affected above), there will be three options:

  • Swap the audio in your video with a track from the Vimeo Music Store (if the third-party copyrighted work is music)
  • Replace the video file
  • Delete the video

If you believe that the video is considered “fair use,” or you rightfully own or have licensed the material in it, you can appeal:

When it comes to striking a deal with a copyright holder(s), permission can be given in a variety of forms but must be in writing. You might have a formal license from the copyright holder or something as simple as an email granting you permission. Whatever the form, the permission should clearly (1) identify the parties (i.e., the copyright holder and you); (2) the work being licensed; and (3) what you can do with the work.  Keep in mind that you might have permissions to do one thing with a work, but not another.  Also remember that you need to have permission from each relevant copyright owner.

In a Copyright Match appeal, you should tell us who licensed the work and describe the basic license terms.  The more information and evidence you can provide to support your claim, the more likely our moderators will accept your appeal.  Please note that if requested, you may need to provide a copy of your documentation. 

If you win your appeal, the video will stay online, but if your appeal is denied, the video will be deleted — though you will have another chance to email moderators if you still think the decision is in error. During the appeals process, videos will remain online, except if:

…you’re in your first week of Vimeo membership, or you’ve had more than two appeals denied, your video will not be accessible during the appeal process.

It’s important to keep in mind that copyright can be pretty complicated, and just because an appeal is accepted by the moderators at Vimeo, does not necessarily mean you are in the clear. One of the big differences between Vimeo and YouTube is that Vimeo is planning on using real people to handle all appeals, so they are making decisions on things like fair use, which is far from cut and dry. Even if your video is approved, a copyright holder could still issue a DMCA takedown notice if they believe you are using their material without permission.

Obviously there are going to be plenty of kinks to work out in the system, but it looks like Vimeo will do their best to listen to users and try to make sure that the people trying to do things the right away don’t have to face unnecessary copyright appeals.

Check out the links below for more details on the Copyright Match system and how it will affect the content you upload.



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Description image 47 COMMENTS

  • That’s cool !

  • how on earth did they not consider this first?

    • Are we talking about the same site that until recently only accepted 44.1k audio when the standard for everything but CD has been 48k since… forever?

  • “striking a deal with a copyright holder(s)” is another use case that should be considered. Why can’t we have an automated way of securing permission to use a song in a video for a small fee, to be renegotiated if that film gains broader commercial distribution? There are a zillion ways to accomplish this in software, and there is this thing called the Internet that looks like it is going to stick around for while. Do we need a new Steve Jobs to show music distributors the way here? All of this is so 1970′s in many ways.

    • I agree a small fee for non-profit work on indie productions would make a greater profit margin that wouldn’t of existed otherwise. It’s amazing that this hasn’t been implemented yet. In my opinion the majority of musicians should want people using their music in these types of videos, it’s free advertising.

    • That’s a problem with the labels. They want to charge you an arm and a leg, and they have the right to due to lax copyright law. I would LOVE some sort of “buy a license!” button with a flat fee for a song depending on the amount used. But copyright law requires permission and fees decided by the owner, not the gov’t, sadly.

      Vimeo would love it too, they’ve said so. But it’s not up to them.

      • Dandy trooper on 06.3.14 @ 12:09AM

        That would be the ultimate distribution system if anybody could use the song for a small fee. Think of the customer base that isn’t currently being used because of copyright laws as is.

  • what about demo reel ?

    • Considering the system they’ve laid out going forward, and demo reels not being mentioned in this latest update, I would take a guess that any demo reels uploaded after this system goes live will be subject to copyright enforcement.
      If you use copyrighted music in your reel and try to post it on Vimeo, I would guess that you would either have to have a license or remove the video’s audio.

      • That’s also how I understand it. If you’re just grabbing some popular music from anywhere and using it for a demo reel, there’s a decent chance it’s going to get flagged.

        • When you set a video as ‘Hide this video from’ it counts as ‘private’, so you can use unlicensed music on your reel if you’re embedding your reel in your own site. You just can’t have your reel visible on Vimeo.

          This update has just fixed all the issues I had with this new policy!

      • And technically that is improper use of someone else’s unlicensed artwork. It’s perfectly justifiable for Vimeo to enforce that. Are you selling the demo reel? No . . . but you are using it to promote yourself with the hopes of getting more work. You are using someone else’s work to make yourself look good to get paid by a 3rd party. Does it suck, for us who are used to using music in that instance. Yes. But technically we have been stealing.

      • In the United States, if someone wants to include music in any video, for sale or otherwise, they need to secure a “sync license” from the rights holder (sometimes musician, sometimes publisher). The rights holder can grant or deny the request, and require any fee in return for the right to use the music.

    • I would imagine that you would have to upload such videos as Private and then include the password when you share the URL for your reel to a prospective client.

      Or if people are concerned about just having their reel publicly available for all to see, embed the video on your own website and then just display the password along with it for when they click the link.

    • Technically, you are breaking copyright law not only for the music but the content, however, it has been standard practice for the industry to “look the other way” with the issue of Demo reels and sampling work.

      Remember if you use less than 60 seconds of a track, this is fair use and legal (even in your films etc) but it is still a risk. Also, remixing music and crediting original source and that you do not own the rights helps a long way to getting a DMCA handled if needed. I have had some success with this akin youtubes system. Its always a good idea to credit anything that was not 100% originally your work.

      On an added note, there is a lot of royalty free music out there now, some of which is pretty good and free of charge others are affordable. IME, demo reel music can be very annoying, if you don’t like that style of music it can be off putting as a Producer/ PM viewing the reel (i.e. dubstep mixed way to hot, always mix to at least -6dB so my speakers don’t explode or ears if I’m using a mobile headphones).
      Always ask yourself if this pop tune or copyrighted music is needed to showcase your work or if something else, simpler will do just fine. Many times, if it is just a highlight reel to music, I hit the mute button anyways. The KISS rule applies.

      This change is nice to see from Vimeo and is what many (politely) suggested at the initial onslaught (including myself) when they made their announcement on the site blog. Thanks NFS for keeping up on the issue.

  • Vimeo can barely keep up with it’s tiny support team. They are going to be in world of trouble when dealing with policing copyrights.

    I presume they are now getting $$ from record companies to police because the record companies don’t want to spend the time policing themselves.

    I could give a rats ass about using most copyrighted music. I’ve tried many times to use it and they won’t deal with you because you are “small time”. Then they want like 20K for a small business internet video. They dug their own grave. Shame on Vimeo for jumping in the grave with them.

  • As much as I’d love to have access to some mainstream music in our productions, I’m glad their doing it. It’s simply the right thing to do IMO. If someone used our videos to promote their music without permission I’d be upset for sure! Plus, more and more musicians are becoming hip to sites like The Music Bed to make their music readily available for licensing with just a few clicks vs record label snobs. I think by not using mainstream music it gives projects more individuality anyway. No offense Jay Z…

    • Agreed- It’s amazing how pissed we get when we can’t use music for free on our reels, but how upset would we get if someone used their video promote their music without asking.

    • Is it reasonable if you sell a video clip to some artist for 20K? I doubt even the highest end music video will buy that.

      Music bed is fine, but those are D-List artists for the most part. Yes, if you are using D-List artists when obtainable, reasonable-priced licensing is available, you should feel some guilt. Music Bed also jacked up their rates since they’ve been gaining popularity.

      Some may be OK with D-List or off-the-beaten path artists, but the record industry needs to be reasonable and attentive with the every-day professionals if they expect to be treated fairly in return.

      Right now, their attitude is “No you can use it. We’re going to be near impossible to reach if you aren’t a big-time player, in large part because we are making it un-affordable to you”.

      And Vimeo is following suit. I expect they are getting money from music industry from this switch.

  • This is a somewhat overdue “non-issue”. Any content creator knows that you can’t use other people’s material in your work without their permission. It doesn’t matter if you are charging for the new derivative work, giving the new work away for free, it doesn’t matter, you need the right holder’s permission.

  • Ekim Namwen on 05.25.14 @ 1:57AM

    Wow, a lot of Vimeo subscribers must have unchecked their auto-renew box. That’s the only reasonable explanation for Vimeo making such a change.

  • Some “creative” millennial with a beard, glasses and skinny jeans probably pushed for this BS.

    Goodbye Vimeo…..

  • I, likely alongside numerous other semi- and full-professional content creators, reached out to Vimeo encouraging them constructively to consider carefully the needs of their paying customers, particularly regarding use for private viewing by clients of not-for-public-viewing content.

    I got a nice personal response thanking me for my feedback and promising to consider the matter further. Now they have addressed one of the major concerns that I and others expressed. Be as hyperbolic and reactionary as you want, but IMHO Vimeo have a decent service for a decent price and they seem to listen to their customers.

    If you’re using licensed content in your product and posting it on Vimeo, it’s not that hard (and sometimes required by license agreements) to say so in the video comments or credits. It may not stop a simple bot from executing its code, but will go a long way toward proactively addressing any copyright concerns.

  • Understanding the history of copyright law in this regard is really helpful. In the 1800′s and early 1900′s before the invention of recorded music, people could only hear music when performed in public. And then what would happen is you could go and buy the sheet music in the store and play it at home on the family piano (which is how many families entertained themselves back in the day). So orgs like ASCAP were formed to protect the copyrights of the songwriters who needed to make money off their compositions.

    What happened though was that musicians were being sued and given cease and desist letters for covering someone’s song. The idea was that if you bought the sheet music you were licensed to play the song in the privacy of your own home, but you weren’t allowed to cover the song in public. That was some additional license that the songwriter should be able to hold. They argued that songwriters should be able to deny you the right to play their song in public if they didn’t like your message or whatever.

    The legislature considered both these competing ideas and made a law that still exists today that strikes a balance between the copyright interests of the songwriter and the performance interests of the artist – that while a songwriter couldn’t BLOCK you from playing their song in public, they could ask for a one-time statutory fee (set by the law, NOT by the songwriter) to cover the song. This law is still in existence in some form today, though I’m not sure of the specifics. You can cover any song you like without permission, but you do need to pay a fee to do so. That fee is set not by the songwriter but by the law, so while the songwriter can make money off of their composition, they cannot use their IP to price people out or to make exorbitant sums.

    That balance DOES NOT EXIST when it comes to recorded music and placement in films. The owners of the song can revoke permission, they can ask for exorbitant amounts, they can do whatever they like. And Congress is too label-friendly to change it. And movie studios who pay through the nose for songs don’t want to change it either – they have the money to pay the clearances and they don’t want the little guy to be able to do the same thing. Keeping things the way they are hurts their competition – all of us.

    The solution is for Congress to strike a similar balance – a nominal flat fee for a music license, separated from the need for permission. Permission should be allowed in all cases with a flat fee determined by law, not by the labels. Whether the fee is high or low is a matter of negotiation and balance. You don’t want a free-for-all on people’s music, but you don’t want to price out nonprofits, schools, etc (maybe some of these orgs can get a blanket license for less). Not only would this make it easier for people to create interesting things, it would ALSO remove so much red tape. Artists could focus on being artists instead of haggling over song rights. You can plan ahead and know you’ll need 1000 dollars for five songs instead of wondering if you’ll ever be able to afford any songs or even get permission for them.

    It’s the only sensible solution, there’s a legal precedent for it in the form of cover music, and it would continue to allow music makers to make money off their music (probably more than before), and it would bring a lot of copyright lawbreakers into the legal fold where they are paying for what they need. If it were that easy a LOT of people would leave the unlicensed piracy behind and spring for the song they wanted.

    Shame it’ll never happen.

  • I’m just making and posting videos on an amateur basis so there is no profit and no hope of getting work. I’m not talented enough anyway. I will have to buy licensed music from the less expensive sites like because I can’t justify the higher price tags of some sites like just for a hobby. I know it will be more difficult to find suitable music. However, being honest with myself, I know it is only fair and I was expecting this eventually. Maybe it will spawn more work … and income … for all the talented private composers and musicians who write music for these types of sites. I’ll just have to work harder on improving the quality of the video content to compensate. After all, the video should primarily support itself… not rely on the music to make a humdrum video interesting.

  • I think that that a large portion if not bulk of the resistance to what Vimeo is doing regarding copyright stems not from the act of copyright checking as much as from a bad experience of dealing with the faceless corporate monster of YouTube – aka as Google, Inc.

    More than Vimeo, I think it is Google that is the one that really needs to be listening here. At the same time, Vimeo also needs to enshrine in stone the basic principle that customers do not like not being heard and get extremely frustrated with automated, nameless replies that are akin to ‘voices from heaven’ (or perhaps hell!) and can only be further reached (read: appealed) through prayer. On this instance, Vimeo have reminded themselves that they are mere mortals on the same footing as their customers. I sincerely hope they never forget this and if they succeed, they may potentially be the next YouTube (not that I personally wish for that!).

  • It seems like :
    1st they thought “everyone using any music , must b stealing it”
    then they saw the concerns of their paying customers
    and decided
    “it’s OK to steal music as long as you pay us, even if you didn’t pay the creators ….but only for a while, because it’s not ok to steal….at least not for too long”

  • This would be a great opportunity for someone to develop a piece of software to shift the key of the tune you want to use so that Vimeo’s Copyright Match can’t identify it.

  • Actually, I think Vimeo should, upon Copyright Match flagging a video, post notice of a copyright infringement with the song’s title and artist on the, let’s say… ‘Copyright Infringement’ page, somewhere on the Vimeo web site. The artist, artist’s rep or record company could peruse the site with song titles or artist’s names as keyword searches. If that produced a video that includes that song, they could then issue a DMCA notice, if they chose to. My guess is that very few, if any, DMCA notices would actually be issued.

  • Glad Vimeo pushed this through, but they’ve already lost me, even though they fixed this. Why? Because they made me, for the first time, search for some new options for client review, and it resulted in me finding a much, much better solution that’s purpose-built for it. And Vimeo just isn’t designed to be a client review platform.

    Glad they fixed this part of it. But my auto-renew option is staying deselected because their mistake led to me finding a much better solution. Seeya, Vimeo Pro.

  • Could there be a day when there is integration of well stocked music libraries for sites like Vimeo and YouTube that allow creatives to quickly search, try and pay for the music (and license) that they want to use in their video?

    If such a service was to exist, what would people posting here be willing to pay to license a song for a video? (let’s say not music in the Top 40, but much better than any canned library music.)

    - $10 to $25
    - $25 to $45
    - $50 to $75
    - $100 – $200
    - $200 +

    If it’s a video that I did as a creative passion project, I’d be willing to pay up to $50 for a really amazing song. Probably $10 to $25 average. For my clients, I generally give them a range of cost depending on the number of songs needed and the budget of the overall project. Generally 10%-14% of the project.

    What are you willing to pay?

      • Honestly I thought that had died off, but thanks for reminding me that Vimeo has somewhat developed such an idea. I did buy a track on it once, but felt that the service had been tacked onto the Vimeo experience rather than fully implemented into it. The search method seemed very limiting and the results were all over the place.

        Also, the selection was severely lacking and the quality varied dramatically. But I guess it’s still there and maybe with Vimeo’s new rules, they will push forward with developing this.