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Vimeo Sued For Audio Infringement 85

Posted by kdawson
from the no-more-lip-dub-for-you dept.
USS_Natas writes "Capitol Records and other labels have sued Vimeo in federal court, charging that the site's emphasis on 'original works' only extends to videos, and that songs are widely used on Vimeo without a license. The plaintiffs hope to prove that Vimeo staffers know about the infringement, since they've been doing it themselves." NewTeeVee has a PDF of the court filing in a Scribd frame.
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Vimeo Sued For Audio Infringement

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @04:26PM (#30500384) Homepage Journal

    Where do i get in on this deal? Since rational logic no longer applies, i want to sue someone too !

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just this once, the record companies have a valid complaint.

    • "It's one... In a million...
      Chance... Of a Lifetime..."
      What?
      What do you mean, "public performance?"
    • TFA makes the point that the record companies already lost a similar suit against Veoh, when Veoh claimed safe harbor under the DMCA. The only reason Vimeo would not be similarly protected is if the labels can show that Vimeo is actively encouraging the infringements of their copyrighted works.

      So even if it is clear that lots of Vimeo videos use unlicensed music owned by the labels, it is not clear that the suit is valid.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday December 19, 2009 @08:38PM (#30501420) Homepage Journal

        it is not clear that the suit is valid.

        They don't care if the suit is valid. They just want to cost Vimeo money so the next guy or company who wants to do something perfectly legal will be afraid.

        I really don't think "valid" is a requirement for a record company lawsuit.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Read the entire damned conversation, not just a single post. Your parent was responding to a post claiming that this was a rare instance of record companies having a valid complaint, which is why he was discussing whether or not the complaint is valid. We all know that the record companies have no interest in the validity of lawsuits.

          (sorry if this post came off as more dick-ish than I wish, but there's been an upswing in the number of people responding to posts out-of-context lately, and I'm not sure why.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dave87656 (1179347)

          They just want to cost Vimeo money so the next guy or company who wants to do something perfectly legal will be afraid.

          Can you imagine what the record companies would do in a world where artists marketed their works directly to the customer? There's only one thing to do: make that illegal or at least sue them out of existence.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    While IMO they do have a point (well apart from live concert footage), however I don't see what they want to achieve nobody watches a lip dub on vimeo instead of buying the actual record. So while they will almost certainly win the case, they won't actually win anything and will lose out on free marketing.

    preemptive pro-tip, if your going to use the term fair-use [wikipedia.org] please understand what it means first.

  • by crovira (10242) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:06PM (#30500536) Homepage

    because if they can't make this stick, they're going to disappear.

    Vimeo is in a perfect position to request that they DO DO.

    Copyright infringement is one of those things that can actually rear up and byte the **AAs in the butt.

    By claiming first amendment rights on the ENTIRE file, audio and video and written text of the actual content of the file, they can force the issue that the AA's are, in fact, stepping on each others territory and refuse to comply with their requests until the establishment of a proper rights infringement body.

    By setting the MPAA lawyers on the RIAA lawyers, Vimeo can ask that the issue of content creation be settled once and for all in a comprehensive manner.

    Since the RIAA and the MPAA are not entitled to settle the matter by themselves, they end up effectively negating each others arguments.

    Now of course the difficulty of settling all of this means that the litigation will pend for years, and may very well see the establishment of an ÜberAA to oversee the FAIR distribution of royalties, but at least it i the end of the various AAs.

    • by Tom Boz (1570397)
      I'm not sure I follow. Nowhere in the article did it mention using first amendment rights, nor do I really think it applies here. It's not debatable whether people were posting copywrited songs; the debate is whether the site was actively encouraging this behavior and thus responsible enough to be sued.
      • by crovira (10242)

        If you are using a clip to illustrate your point and merely using vimeo to host your content, then it IS a manner of first amendment rights.

        Since vimeo was merely hosting it, they should be afforded the same protection as the television channels which could have done the same.

        First, the distinction between streaming and non-streaming are merely a matter of transmission technique interjecting itself between the emission and the reception of a message. As such, they don't really exist.

        Next, the difference bet

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The other large issue here is does Capitol Records really want to take on Vimeo of all places in a case like this? It's a bit of a misrepresentation saying Vimeo

      "draws most (if not all) of its appeal from, the use of copyrighted works.”

      Much of the material on Vimeo is copy-writable, but as to whether the material was actually submitted for copyright is a different matter. There are many videos on Vimeo that contain material that is entirely the property of the original owner, where the same author created both the audio AND video portions themselves (eg: visual portion was recor

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        There are many videos on Vimeo that contain material that is entirely the property of the original owner, where the same author created both the audio AND video portions themselves (eg: visual portion was recorded using footage from a hi-def handi-cam, iMovie and photoshop, and the audio was composed using GarageBand [apple.com] or something similar)

        And that's what really worries the record labels. We can't have people making their own content. It upsets the natural balance of things, where the labels mak

    • By setting the MPAA lawyers on the RIAA lawyers,

      You don't think the recording industries and the movie industries (and for that matter, the songwriters and performers and actors and scriptwriters) have already spent years in court deciding that very issue? Those industries have very clear rules for who gets what and how much for each type of performance.

    • by Mathinker (909784) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @07:30PM (#30501106) Journal

      The MPAA have nothing to do with this litigation, since the video content in question are original works ("lip dubs").

      Even if the MPAA were involved, they would have little trouble cooperating with RIAA. If someone were to post a clip of MPAA video redubbed with new RIAA audio, both organizations could sue independently. In other words, there would be no need for them to cooperate in the first place.

      You are greatly confused, but I found your post highly imaginative (and terrifically wishful thinking)...

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Since the RIAA and the MPAA are not entitled to settle the matter by themselves

      You think "not being entitled" is going to stop the RIAA?

  • Seriously true... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:08PM (#30500546)
    Typical Vimeo user profile: "30-something Caucasian with a HUGE iTunes library, prosumer camera gear and/or a copy of Processing, with a penchant for shallow-depth-of-field effects."

    There's non-fair-use copyright-infringement all over the place on that site, and it's absolutely weird that nobody at Vimeo HQ has even batted an eyelash. Really, it's that bad. (I'm a big fan of CC myself, and I think that if people would just stop using RIAA tunes to enhance their own creative works, the problem would solve itself)
  • The Real Reason... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bedroll (806612) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:16PM (#30500570) Journal

    I don't find the lawsuit itself particularly interesting. From the sound of it, I believe Capitol will win on at least one count of copyright infringement. The video itself obviously infringes, though I don't see how it does any damage to Capitol's property. Still, their hook is compelling from a legal point of view. Check out this excerpt from NewTeeVee:

    The difference, according to Capitol, is that not only has Vimeo not tried very hard to protect copyright owners, but it actively encourages infringement. Capitol alleges that Vimeo’s use of copyrighted material is “not an accident,” claiming that the web site contains “a massive amount of content that features, and draws most (if not all) of its appeal from, the use of copyrighted works.” As a result, according to the complaint, Vimeo is not only aware of copyright infringement happening on its system, but “actively promotes and induces that infringement.”

    What's interesting about this is that Vimeo's appeal is the high quality of its unique, user generated content. Just like in the video, the compelling element is not the song but they way in which their employees are lip syncing. I would go so far as to say that it's more interesting than the original video, though I haven't seen that in a decade. Vimeo is one of the user generated content sites that is relatively free from blatant copying. Perhaps copyrighted works are used as background music for these videos, but they are rarely, if ever, the central focus.

    That's why Vimeo is being sued. Not because their site is rife with copyright infringement. Not because their site encourages infringement over unique content. Specifically because the community at their site has flourished into one that consistently puts out unique user generated content of high quality. Vimeo is like YouTube with the noise turned down. This scares the pants off the content industry.

    As the trend towards Internet Television strengthens the monopolies of the content industry weaken. Quality user generated content is a direct competitor to professionally generated content. The content industry has a long history of using the legal system to ensure that they squash the competition. That's what they're doing here.

    I feel bad for Vimeo. They made an innocent video to show what a fun-loving bunch of wacky kids they are at their little Web 2.0 start up. They probably thought that like other various mashups and non-malicious infringements that their video would either fly under the radar or become a success such that the content owner would appreciate the attention drawn to their work and see the positive aspects of it. What they didn't realize is that they've become the nemesis of big business. Big business does not treat its adversaries well.

    • I feel bad for Vimeo. They made an innocent video to show what a fun-loving bunch of wacky kids they are at their little Web 2.0 start up. They probably thought that like other various mashups and non-malicious infringements that their video would either fly under the radar or become a success such that the content owner would appreciate the attention drawn to their work and see the positive aspects of it.

      You should read this before feeling too sorry for Vimeo: http://blog.wolfire.com/2009/01/vimeowned/ [wolfire.com]

      They

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Khyber (864651)

        PAY ATTENTION TO THE FUCKING TERMS OF SERVICE.

        In which they absolutely, clearly, in no unfuckingcertain terms:

        No commercial use of Vimeo. (simplified for those that don't want to read the legalese.)

        Demoing a goddamned game you developed is a commercial use - you're advertising to effect, and that's NOT ALLOWED.

        Why, yes, I am a paying Vimeo Plus user. I pay so they can afford to spend the time making sure I don't get a place cluttered with ADVERTISEMENTS. If you want to advertise your game, go to an advertis

        • The videos were not actually commercial use, they were "design tours" which critique other indie video games. Here's an example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAoW9fjKmo4&fmt=22 [youtube.com]

          Or as you might put it,
          FFUFUUUUUUUUUUU RAAAWR INTERNET COMMENT

          • by Khyber (864651)

            It's a plug, no matter how you look at it. We don't allow it, for the purposes of legal safety. Ugh, Apple users and their absolute lack of common sense or even the purpose of a community.

            Youtube is meant to have all that garbage. Vimeo wants educational and unique things, not REVIEWS.

            Please, shut your mouth unless you know what the fuck you're talking about. You're obviously not a Vimeo member, otherwise you'd not be saying the stupid bullshit you're saying right now. We paid to keep that garbage off our s

    • by Andorin (1624303)

      The video itself obviously infringes, though I don't see how it does any damage to Capitol's property.

      Since when has that mattered with respect to copyright infringement suites? It doesn't make a bit of difference whether or not your actions cause any real harm, significant or no. The recording industry will still come after you for thousands of dollars in 'damages.'

      • by bedroll (806612)
        They will need to prove the damages to the court in order for this suit to have any bite to it. I trust that slashdotters are savvy enough to realize that the Copyright industry has yet to give up on the idea of using lawsuits to "send a message." This isn't about a single judgment, it's about a broader attempt to leverage the legal system to maintain the status quo. The evidence of that is in the fact that the suit does not limit itself to that video alone. They are trying to obtain a judgment that would s
    • Whether or not the user-created content is high quality has little to do with whether there's infringement going on. It really looks to me like Vimeo has stepped over the line in terms of the safe harbor provisions -- they're trying to have their cake and eat it too. With the DMCA in its present form, that just isn't going to fly.
      • by bedroll (806612)

        I think that Vimeo is a target because their content is of higher quality than many of its peers. It's also far more likely to be unique and not to infringe. Yet, the suit seems to imply that the intent of the video was to encourage the kind of infringement that doesn't seem to happen at that site. The quality of the content is in large part because it is unique and largely non-infringing. At least, that has been my experience with that site's content.

        Vimeo reaps what they sew and they should have had som

    • They better be careful, otherwise soon those independent film makers may find out that making equivalently high quality music isn't all that hard, and they don't need to lipsync anymore. Then who will need the RIAA?
    • by Kirijini (214824)

      The compelling element is not the song but they way in which their employees are lip syncing...

      Why does it matter what the "compelling element" of the video is? How does that change the fact that they're using a copyrighted work without authorization of the owner?

      ...I don't see how it does any damage to Capitol's property.

      Why does it matter if the copyright owner's property is "damaged"? Infringement isn't stealing - damage to the owner isn't an inherent part of the offense.

      What this comes down to is whether or not Vimeo can prevail on a fair use defense. But it should be noted that "fair use" doesn't matter unless there's an infringement. Trying to argu

      • by bedroll (806612)

        No, I think you read too much into my opinion. I believe that it's a closed case from a legal standpoint. The court shouldn't take much interest in an opinion like mine.

        Much of what I wrote is not about the case or what I think the outcome should be, but rather my belief of why Capitol is bothering with such a case. I don't know that the law should be changed to protect Vimeo. I do think there's value in trying to understand the motives of Capitol.

        It's important because it will continue. If you or I generat

    • by Eil (82413)

      You make a good point, but I think what bugs the recording industry the most is this bit:

      The difference, according to Capitol, is that not only has Vimeo not tried very hard to protect copyright owners,

      They're just using the "lip dubs" lawsuit as a club. The thing that the recording industry is really complaining about here that Vimeo is not actively policing the copyrights of other companies. Let that sink in for a moment.

      Think about all the recent copyright legislation and brouhaha that's been going on in

      • by bedroll (806612)
        Very good point. The industry definitely wants sites to do their policing for them. Though, I think that is just the first part of the attack. Think of what we saw with p2p suits. First they demand filtering, then they claim the filtering isn't doing enough, then they shutter the service. I don't see them trying this sort of strategy against Google, since they would have the resources to fight against it. I do see that becoming an issue against other services, leaving them at the mercy of the Copyright indu
  • by appleprophet (233330) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:34PM (#30500644) Homepage

    I can't really feel bad for Vimeo here. Vimeo is well known for removing indie developer's video game videos without warning (see the Wolfire vimeowned post [wolfire.com] -- World of Goo and Fez are two other examples). Vimeo claim this is because of some copyright fears -- even though the developers obviously have the rights to show their own games!

    Looks like the tables have turned -- maybe if Vimeo had policed actual copyright violations instead of taking down video game developer's videos they would not be in this situation.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      Pay attention to Vimeo's Terms of Service. This has even been discussed multiple times in their forums - demoing a game counts as advertising the game - ADVERTISING IS NOT ALLOWED.

      Ugh people that don't know the rules just make me so sick.

      • Ugh people that don't know the rules just make me so sick.

        People who make kneejerk comments without thinking make me sick. ;) Watch the video that was pulled:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAoW9fjKmo4&fmt=22 [youtube.com]

        It's a design tour exploring the themes of World of Goo and the programming techniques behind it, totally unafilliated with 2dboy.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          Ahh, the joys of a fool that knows not the actual purpose of the site.

          NO PLUGGING THINGS IN ANY MANNER - REVIEWS, ETC ARE NOT ALLOWED.

          This is made perfectly clear in the ToS and in most forum posts regarding this nature. If you don't like that, get the hell off the site. We want CONTENT. I provide CONTENT by educating people how to make simple workable hydroponics systems. Don't mention brands or any trademarked or copywritten stuff - we don't want that on our site, we don't want the fucking legal liability

          • by Roblimo (357)

            Who is this "we" of whom you speak?

            I'm a paid Vimeo member, too.

            Maybe the Magic Money Fairy comes by your house every other week, but he seems to bypass mine. And (shock) most of the people who pay me to make videos want to promote or sell something.

            Are music videos promotions? How about live performance videos like this one?: http://vimeo.com/7366434 [vimeo.com]

            That's an original song, sung and played by its creators, shot and edited by me. But (horrors!) I mention the name of the band -- and of the nightclub whose ow

        • by canajin56 (660655)
          I'd point out that, in spite of what Frothing At The Mouth guy wants, video game clips are allowed if they're about your own game. That link you posted, is about some other peoples' games. That's not allowed, even with permission. If you don't like the rule, that's fine, but the rule is, even with permission, you cannot post videos about games that you're not on the dev team for. I'll repeat that, as they word it: "'I have permission' does not mean that you created it!" Additionally, and this is made
      • by canajin56 (660655) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:40PM (#30501650)

        Exceptions: independent production companies, authors, musicians, non profits, churches, artists, and actors may show or promote the work they have created.

        Musicians can use the site to advertise their CD. Movie makers can post their trailers. Artists can post samples of their work. Authors can talk about their new books. BUT FUCK INDY GAME DEVELOPERS, THEY AND THEY ALONE DON'T COUNT.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Musicians can use the site to advertise their CD. Movie makers can post their trailers. Artists can post samples of their work. Authors can talk about their new books. BUT FUCK INDY GAME DEVELOPERS, THEY AND THEY ALONE DON'T COUNT.

          Show me the article in the constitution that give anyone the right to advertize themselves on Vimeo against Vimeo's wishes. Pornography is for example discriminated against all the time, even though it's legal. You just can't put it up on YouTube, you have to go to PornTube or whatever site that wants it. So set up the vimeo of game trailers and stop complaining.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Khyber (864651)

      To quote Vimeo's ToS (Since I forgot to do so)

      You shall not, without VIMEO's express written approval, distribute or otherwise publish via any of the Services any material containing any solicitation of funds, promotion, advertising, or solicitation for goods or services.

      VIMEO may revoke your privileges, terminate your registration/account or take any other measures deemed by VIMEO to be appropriate, in its sole discretion, to enforce these Terms of Service if violations are brought to our attention.

      Yes, in

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by appleprophet (233330)

        You should watch the video in question before typing in caps and spewing profanity:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAoW9fjKmo4&fmt=22 [youtube.com]

        This is no more and advertisement then a critique of a movie or literary review.

      • by Roblimo (357)

        Heh. A squealer, no less.

        It's not as if someone's "advertising" is showing on *your* Vimeo page or in the forums.

        Whatever.

        If you are the "we" of Vimeo, I want no part of it.

        FYI, all music in all videos I've posted on Vimeo is legal.

        - R

  • The use of the Vimeo employee's quote "original video ... not original music" as evidence that the Vimeo is encouraging copyright infringement is a telling reflection on the music industry's idiotic hubris / disconnection from reality. All non-original music is Big Content music?

    Meh.

    • by tepples (727027)

      All non-original music is Big Content music?

      I addressed that in my other comment [slashdot.org].

      • Even though you are probably correct on a per-work basis, the labels would be laughed out of court if they tried to use it as an formal argument ("Your Honor, we have a portfolio of soooo many songs, no one else could possibly create a new original work not based on one of our songs!"). So I think both of us are right, in a way.

    • The use of the Vimeo employee's quote "original video ... not original music" as evidence that the Vimeo is encouraging copyright infringement is a telling reflection on the music industry's idiotic hubris / disconnection from reality. All non-original music is Big Content music?

      Meh.

      You really believe that I can't go on Vimeo right now and find a video lipsync with audio owned by Capitol Records? Care to put money on that claim?

      • You really believe that I can't go on Vimeo right now and find a video lipsync with audio owned by Capitol Records? Care to put money on that claim?

        No, I call your one song by Capitol Records and raise you two by EMI. I haven't checked, but I'm perfectly willing to take your word for it that Vimeo is chock full of videos with Capitol Records music. It has nothing to do with the point of my post.

        My post has nothing to do with the actual videos which are on Vimeo, and everything to do with the legal filing by the record labels. My post is only about one specific legal argument which is presented in the filing, which claims that because an employee of Vim

  • To me the real problem of this post is that it's just so difficult to find music to use on your video work.

    There should be a way to buy, on a reasonable way, the right to add some music to my holiday videos...

    There are a few initiatives out there such as Jamendo but we should be able to license more music to be included in home brewed videos... And guess what the industry could even make some profit from that :-)

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