Vimeo Sued Over Music Infringement

Here’s a case that vidders might want to keep an eye on. Vimeo is being sued by a number of record companies–EMI, Capitol, Virgin–over audio tracks, which “are too often unlicensed copies of full songs.” You can read more about the case at arstechnica.com: Vimeo sued; have staffers uploaded infringing content? While the suit seems to want to leave some space for transformative works–as the article notes, EMI is “careful to say that it is ‘not seeking to stifle creativity or preclude members of the public from creating original, lawful audiovisual works,'” it also wants to stop usage of “the entire musical work deliberately and carefully synchronized into the video.”

Obviously we at the OTW disagree with the implication that the use of music “in careful synchronization” is automatically infringing. Music can be an interpretive tool, and vids are a form of speech: they show, they demonstrate, they make arguments. In a vid, music is not a “soundtrack”; it is an essential part of the argument and creates a new–intricate, and richly meaningful–whole.

2 thoughts to “Vimeo Sued Over Music Infringement”

  1. If it is money what the corporates are after, I suggest that vidders pay the hosting company a monthly fee. in return a portion goes to the big music and entertainment companies for ‘transformative licensing purposes’.

    Those ‘licensing watch dogs’ can then ‘watch the licensed works in the licensed spaces’. Any hosting service not issuing licences can get their asses sued. It must be possible for us to get a space where we can showcase our work without being stamped criminals.

    I see it in comparison to graffiti artists- you still want to exhibit work on a ‘public canvas’, but you can play along certain rules and spaces — or be illegal. But then it is your choice and not categorically an offence.
    I am happy to pay for space, just like I am being ok with paying for iTunes downloads. I respect artists and want to be respected.

    What do other vidders think? Would you be happy to pay a fee in return for ‘legal space’ and being left to do your art?

    1. Sorry to be so late in replying; I sent this comment to our legal team and only now realized that they replied to me rather than to here!

      The answer I got was:

      “It’s a nice idea in theory, but it’s predicated on the music and entertainment companies wanting such a thing – which so far they haven’t seemed to. It’s not like there are compulsory licenses for transformative works, so even if the vidders wanted to pay someone, there would have to be someone to pay. (There’s an example in a law review article of someone calling a content provider – Disney, maybe? – and trying to find out if he can pay them to use some music/video/something in a for-personal-use-only home video. They told him they didn’t want his money, and he wasn’t allowed to use it.)

      Of course, if it’s fair use, we shouldn’t have to pay anyway. 🙂 (Though I expect that there are vidders who WOULD as long as it was a small amount, just to feel like they’re on the right side of the law for sure.)”

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