Vimeo feels the pressure of being second; record labels double down on copyright claims

Vimeo feels the pressure of being second; record labels double down on copyright claims

Vimeo, also known as the site you find yourself on whenever a video isn’t immediately available on YouTube, has recently found itself embroiled in a copyright dispute brought about by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and some of it its record label enforcers.

Last Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Capitol Records, Caroline Records, and Virgin Records America asked a judge for a “summary judgement win” in a joint lawsuit first filed three years ago in New York federal court. For those with less than a marginal knowledge of legalese, asking for a summary judgement is the equivalent of asking for an end to a case without trial, given the undisputed nature of the facts. Thank you, Internet.

Since the case had been delayed pending an appellate court ruling in Viacom v. YouTube, it’s worth summarizing what it’s all about, as if you couldn’t have guessed: the record labels are accusing Vimeo of “copying, performing, and distributing” sound recordings from artists such as The Beatles, Coldplay, Norah Jones, Nat King Cole, and The Beach Boys. Going even further, in its motion for summary judgement, the record labels essentially dub Vimeo the negligent parent of copyright-infringing, user-generated content websites. Here’s an excerpt:

YouTube, Veoh, and other websites do not create and consistently upload their own infringing videos; do not expressly tell users it is permissible to use infringing music in their videos and instruct their users how to do so; do not have a team of employees monitoring to ‘curate’ their content and a set of technological tools to accomplish that task; do not actively participate in the website ‘community’ to define and delimit the content on their website; do not at their sole discretion delete and ‘bury’ content that they believe does not reflect the image or brand they want to establish; and do not refuse to obtain licenses from music copyright owners or to deploy available technologies to filter copyrighted music. As described below, Vimeo does all of these things and more.

The entire motion attempts to demonstrate that Vimeo encourages (and makes a point to ignore) uploads that use copyrighted music.

For what it’s worth, Vimeo filed their own motion for summary judgement last September, in which they stated, “Vimeo does not—and cannot—view every video uploaded by its users to attempt to determine whether it infringes a copyright or otherwise violates Vimeo’s terms of service. Instead, Vimeo relies upon copyright holders to inform it if a user has uploaded an infringing video. This is exactly what Congress envisioned when it enacted the DMCA.”

My perspective: if someone wants to upload a video of themselves dancing sexily to Nat King Cole’s rendition of “O Tannenbaum,” while wearing a Santa hat over their nether region, shouldn’t that be their right? Shouldn’t it?!

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