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The seedy underside of Vimeo

The seedy underside of Vimeo

Read the fine print!

Read the fine print!

When Icrontic first started to do video content, we needed a place to host it. We didn’t really want to use YouTube because of various restrictions on quality, and the craptastic “mentality-of-a-12-year-old” userbase. We opted for Vimeo because the quality was superb and the embedding options were nice. The availability of HD content pretty much sealed the deal.

We started off our relationship with Vimeo in a gentle way: we posted up a video of a reviewer submerging a Gelid fan in water and we posted a short clip of a funny exchange over beers in the kitchen of ICHQ. Everything was peachy.

Before we went to E3, I jumped in and paid for a premium account because I knew we would need Vimeo to be a part of our toolbox; I thought I had all my bases covered.

Until the fateful day of the Nintendo press conference…

The Nintendo press conference had some good stuff in there; on the way out of the Nokia Theatre, we were handed little cards with the press kit address on them. The press kit contained all the trailers we saw just minutes beforehand. Our team rushed back to the E3 media lounge to get this stuff up on the web. People wanted to see things like the Metroid Other M trailer and the New Super Mario Bros.

The internet access at the E3 press lounge was shot to hell. I made a plea to the guys back at home base: Please download this stuff and get it up to our Vimeo account ASAP! They came through and it was downloaded and posted in short order. Our Nintendo press conference article went up and we were one of the first on the web with the new trailers.

For an hour or so.

I then got an email from Vimeo:

Dear Icrontic.com:

Your video ‘Metroid: Other M – E3 press vid(4968641)’ has been removed for violating the Upload Rules of Vimeo.com:

Vimeo does not allow TV shows, movie trailers, or stuff you found on the web.

Alright, fair enough. I could see how they made the mistake. I responded with a simple “We are authorized press – received directly from Nintendo assets site”.

Then I noticed that they took down all of our game trailers, including The Saboteur that I got from their asset kit, and the other Nintendo trailers.

But wait… That wasn’t all they did. They disabled embedding of all content on our site, even the things we had made ourselves. Sure, the videos were still available by going directly to Vimeo.com and going into our account, but embedding was gone, so every occurrence of a video on our site was replaced with a block that said “embedding has been disabled for this site.”

I emailed them again, asking why this was. They responded:

We see that you are uploading videos you did not make. We’re sorry, but our Terms specify that Vimeo is for uploading videos you create only, and we cannot host this content for you. “I have permission from the creator” does not count as making it. We also do not allow videos from TV, Movies, or something you ripped from the Web. Please take 48 hours to remove the offending content.

I understand their position. Even though I didn’t have TV or Movies, nor had I “ripped” anything from the web. Still, I picked up what they were laying down. Fine. We removed the content that we had not created– namely the trailers listed above.

So we got screwed out of our embedded video content during E3 (when it was very important), and life went on.

Then a few days later, I received another email:

Your video ‘Decals: When will you grow up?(2730963)’ has been removed for violating the Upload Rules of Vimeo.com:

Vimeo does not allow game walk-throughs, game strategy videos, depictions of player vs. player battles, raids, or any other video gaming video that simply depicts individuals playing a video game.

We made that video! What gives? I emailed them:

We have removed all content that we have not created ourselves. Please re-enable content on our site as soon as possible – we are trying to cover E3 here.

Thank you!

To which I received no response.

A week has gone by. I noticed that all embedded videos were still down for Icrontic. Now I was getting very frustrated. I emailed them this morning:

Subject: Still no embedding on Icrontic Gaming

Hello! I paid for a year of Vimeo so we could publish content, and you guys are kind of screwing me over. I understand we can’t have any footage of video game capture; you’ve made that quite clear.

Can you PLEASE re-enable embedding on gaming.icrontic.com IMMEDIATELY so we can continue to publish video content? If this isn’t rectified today I’d like a full refund and I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.

Their response was not really a response at all:

Hi Brian,

We have processed your refund. Please allow a few days for the credit to appear on your card.

Sincerely,

Julia Heffernan

Community Assistant – vimeo.com

I was hoping for some kind of engagement here as clearly I wanted to continue working with them. All I wanted was for them to re-enable embedding for our content that did not violate any terms of service. We shot video of interviewing The Saboteur developers; we had video of us being goofy at a party; all things we had shot and produced ourselves. There was no reason for this content to be disabled.

Now I am pretty livid. We paid for our content. We haven’t had it available on our website for over a week and we even followed their rules and removed the “offending” content. Instead of re-establishing our account like I asked, they simply processed a refund.

Oh, and just because I had drawn attention to my account, they made sure to follow up with another semi-threatening email:

A moderator has marked your account for review for the following reason:Please take the next 72 hours to remove your content from Vimeo. Your purchase of Vimeo Plus has been refunded.

Uploading game walk-throughs, game strategy videos, depictions of player vs. player battles, raids, or other videos that simply depict individuals playing a video game.

We will monitor your account to determine whether you are in compliance with our rules. If you are not, your account will be removed by a moderator.

Now it seems like they just want all of our content gone. I didn’t ask for that. Clearly I was still willing to keep my account on Vimeo for our own content. Now they’re just being jerks.

I started looking elsewhere; I heard a few people mention Blip.TV

I went to Blip.TV and carefully read their terms of service. Sure enough, there was the clause: no video game content and no video game trailers. Their explanation was in plain English: it costs a lot to host this content, we don’t get much value for it, there are other sites that specialize in this, here’s a list, etc.

That’s fine. Fair enough. I won’t even bother signing up, and I appreciate their candidness. But then, I got a note from long time Icrontic member Septimus. He said “Kotaku uses Blip.TV.”

Skeptical, I checked. Sure enough, Kotaku is using Blip.TV to host their trailers, playthroughs, everything. Curious.

I wanted to find out if there was a special program for this. I emailed Blip.TV:

We’re considering moving our video content from Vimeo because they will not allow us to post video game trailers or playthrough content. I was about to sign up for Blip.TV but then noticed that your TOS indicates you don’t allow video game content. That said, I notice that Kotaku is using your site for exactly that. I need to understand clearly before I bother transferring content over: Can we post game trailers and other video game related content? Or did you make a special exception for Kotaku because of their size? Thank you!

They responded quickly:

We focus on providing services to people who are making original, episodic content. Unfortunately gaming videos don’t fit this definition.You may want to check out GameTube <http://www.gametube.org/> — a site that looks like an excellent resource for people who want to share videos of themselves or others playing video games.

To which I responded:

Okay that’s fine, but why is Kotaku allowed to post this forbidden content?

And lo and behold, I’ve gotten no response.

Amazing.

The point here is twofold: First, read the TOS carefully for any service you sign up for. Clearly I didn’t read the TOS for Vimeo and I broke the rules. They responded, I responded, everything was fine right up until they refused to re-enable our legitimate content and then, instead of engaging me, they simply refunded my money curtly. It was a very unprofessional way to go about things. And two, if you are the size of Kotaku, you can break the rules, it’s fine. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

UPDATE: AUGUST 30, 2009:

To bump this thread, and continue to highlight the ridiculousness of Vimeo:

We’re about to publish a story about a documentary called “Tilt”; which is a Pinball movie. The trailer for it happens to be available on Vimeo. When we went to embed the video (which we did not make, and which does not violate the ToS), we get a message that embedded content cannot be played on this site.

That means we can never embed ANY Vimeo content on Icrontic. They have blocked us entirely.

How completely unprofessional. Thanks, Vimeo.

On that note, Viddler has been awesome to and for us. We solved our issues by moving our content to Viddler.

Comments

  1. Ryan Meray | ctechsinc.com This is sheer and utter crap. I say we start talking about #vimeofail on twitter ASAP.
  2. Bandrik
    Bandrik Rather irritating, to say the least. I understood the basics of our strife with Vimeo - I had no idea it was of this nature, nor magnitude.

    While I'm not here to pledge a boycott against Vimeo or blip.tv, I also am not a user of either of these "services". As such, in light of this story, I have no further interest in them. While YouTube does indeed have a rather immature audience, at least it seems lax on what you can post.

    Prime, I'm sorry you had to go through all this bullcrap. UPSLynx gave me a nice run-down of his thoughts of larger groups like IGN and GameSpot and what it's like to be small. It's a shame that these groups receive special handouts and exceptions made for them... but it makes me all the more proud to be an up and coming member of this group.

    Hmm... I wonder if this article will move any waves on the blogosphere?
  3. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster There should be full disclosure on all services offered. If Vimeo has a special option, everyone should be privy to it. If not, it is nothing short of exclusionary and a corrupt business model.
  4. Matt Dibble I've seen one of your episodes and it's about as episodic as you could get. Funny, engaging, opinionated... it's a shame you're getting lumped in with the 10 year olds posting videos of themselves playing GH or conquering Halo.
    "Here's your money" is not a proper response to "please help us or refund us." Bad CS.
  5. Zanthian
    Zanthian I would suggest you send this along to consumerist.com for some larger coverage.
  6. Rob Sandie You should try Viddler.
  7. primesuspect
    primesuspect Viddler is hella expensive for what we want to do. Viddler would be $100 a month + $150 startup fee. If it comes to that, I'd rather dump less than that into our hosting platform and host it up ourselves.
  8. primesuspect
    primesuspect And Rob; welcome to Icrontic: I know you're the founder of Viddler and that's cool, but engaging me in a way more constructive than "try Viddler" would have been nice. I like Viddler, it's been recommended to me many times, and everybody seems to have nothing but good things to say about it, but the way I read your TOS is that we would need to have a business account. Am I wrong on that?

    If I can host video game trailers, and all the other content we make, for free, then count me in. I'd love it if you guys were the solution.
  9. primesuspect
    primesuspect PS: Still have NOT heard back from Blip.tv. VERY CURIOUS INDEEEEEEDDDDD
  10. sandieman
    sandieman Thanks for the welcome. I was trying to fly under the radar with that one. Have you checked out our partner program? We work with many gaming properties (destructoid, joystiq, PSU.com, etc) with revenue share/partner program. We also have age-gate options with this program that let you abide by the game industries standards for trailers.

    If that's of interest send me an email and I'll help get you started.
  11. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx
    And two, if you are the size of Kotaku, you can break the rules, it’s fine. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

    This is a fact made VERY evident at E3 from the big guys. It's amazing what money can bring you.

    I hate hating Vimeo. They've been such a great service for my personal account, hosting my demo reel and animation tests. Their video quality is excellent, and I like their site's design and handling of uploads.

    Meh, we need an alternative service badly.
  12. primesuspect
    primesuspect Thanks for the recommendation, Rob. I'll shoot you an email. I'd love it if you guys were the right fit for us.
  13. Mike Hudack Hey,

    So sorry you haven't heard back from blip yet. Consider this our response :)

    We spent a good 15 minutes discussing your blog post yesterday.

    So here's the short answer: Kotaku is grandfathered in. We know that a lot of their content violate our terms, but they've been using us forever and we don't feel right shutting them down at this point when they've come to rely on us on a daily basis.

    We spent some time discussing whether or not we should continue grandfathering Kotaku, and we decided that we should. But I know -- we know -- that it causes confusion and seems unfair.

    Give me a call if you'd like to discuss more. I'd be happy to discuss further, and recommend some strategies for getting your videos online the way you want them.

    Yours,

    Mike Hudack
    Co-founder & CEO, blip.tv
  14. primesuspect
    primesuspect Thanks for posting, Mike; one good thing that's come of all of this is the direct frankness and engagement of your respective companies with our community, and that's really the ultimate problem I had with Vimeo: instead of discussing the problem, they just shut us down.

    I appreciate your explanation of Kotaku's use of your service, and even moreso, I appreciate your forthrightness. You're right; it did cause confusion, and it does seem unfair, but your explanation makes sense, and I know as well as anybody that things aren't always black and white.

    If anything, this whole episode proves one thing: the companies that will succeed in the world of internet business are the ones that realize their customers have direct lines of communication with them and with each other; all we want is to be able to talk to you. Clearly Viddler and Blip.tv "get it".

    PS: I removed your cell phone number from the post, I hope you don't mind; Uncle Google is all over these things and I don't want you to get spammed like mad :D
  15. chrisWhite
    chrisWhite I have to say, I'm so impressed with Viddler and Blip.tv for this interaction. Prime nailed it, this frankness and engagement says you guys get it!
  16. Thrax
    Thrax I would like to say that I'm also very impressed with the way Blip.TV and Viddler have handled the situation. My respect for these two companies has grown tremendously.
  17. primesuspect
    primesuspect To bump this thread, and continue to highlight the ridiculousness of Vimeo:

    We're about to publish a story about a documentary called "Tilt"; which is a Pinball movie. The trailer for it happens to be available on Vimeo. When we went to embed the video (which we did not make, and which does not violate the ToS), we get a message that embedded content cannot be played on this site.

    That means we can never embed ANY Vimeo content on Icrontic. They have blocked us entirely.

    How completely unprofessional. Thanks, Vimeo.
  18. thatdamnredhead
    thatdamnredhead I hope this gets much bigger, because I'm very curious to see how their PR dept handles this from a crisis comm standpoint. This is complete and utter bullshit.
  19. Linc
    Linc Nominate for "most petty" Webby.
  20. primesuspect
    primesuspect Notice that both Rob Sandie (founder of Viddler) and Mike Hudack (CEO of Blip.tv) have commented on this story. Where is Vimeo? Where is there PR team? No comment from them. :-/
  21. RyanMM
    RyanMM Vimeo - "Burning bridges is how we roll."
  22. Krystalle I've totally got to jump in here and give a hearty /cheer for Viddler. They do all our videos for Massively.com (Joystiq's sister site), and we've had nothing but excellent, trouble-free service since we migrated off Vimeo for the exact same reason you are leaving now.
  23. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx This really grinds my gears.

    That piece on Tilt is very interesting, we've lost content because of the complete ignorance of Vimeo.

    I've kept a personal account on Vimeo for my demo reel and other non-Icrontic video work. I'm going to be pulling all of my content from Vimeo and migrating fully to viddler now as a result. This is pathetic.

    Viddler has been great for us. I've worked a lot with the site, as I post video weekly, and the experience has been outstanding.
  24. desmond had a similar problem with vimeo just today.

    we do movies and documentary (so not "ripped" or "found" from the web).
    We don't use vimeo fo commercial use but just to promote our work (forwarding to video links).
    Our video concerning hard life of poor people in italian suburbian.
    They removed ALL my videos (either my personal ) but the worse is WITHOUT ANY WARNING.
    they ask me ,if they are wrong , to anser in "civil manner" but I don't think they understand what "civil manner" consist.
    desmond
  25. Bill Cammack That's pretty much what you get for going with 3rd party video hosting solutions.

    When I was testing them out, back in '06 or '07, I uploaded four videos that I shot myself of a parade. I can't remember which service I uploaded it to, but they're defunct now.

    Two of my videos were accepted and posted to my account. Two of my videos were rejected because of copyright infringement because the floats in the parade were playing music. :/

    I immediately knew I couldn't use that company going forward, because I wasn't willing to GUESS which of my videos would be accepted or rejected because some peon concluded that videotaping something in the street in the open air constituted copyright infringement on music.

    Your best bet is to host important videos yourself, on your own servers, using your own bandwidth, because each hosting service has different ToS and a lot of them are outlawing videogaming videos at this point.

    Try GameTrailers.
  26. primesuspect
    primesuspect And just another update: Over a year later, we are still banned from posting any Vimeo content, and we have still never heard from them.

    I have a distinct feeling we are banned because we are highlighting our terrible experience with them....
  27. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster Would you want a forum member named icrontic-sucks? Of course your banned, and honesty, who needs em anyhow....
  28. ardichoke
    ardichoke
    Of course you're banned, and honesty, who needs em anyhow....

    ftfy
  29. Winfrey
    Winfrey
    Would you want a forum member named icrontic-sucks? Of course you're banned, and honestly, who doesn't think AMD has the greatest GPUs on the market....

    double fix't:vimp:
  30. Bandrik
    Bandrik
    Winfrey wrote:
    double fix't:vimp:

    icwutudidthar.jpg
  31. primesuspect
    primesuspect Bump for an update:

    The author of Trauma, one of the Humble Bundle games, wrote an article about how vehemently anti-gamer Vimeo is. A good read.
  32. John your lucky you didnt upload to blip.tv.

    got this today, had that account for 3 years with clips of things i created myself with autodesk maya. so they are equally crap :P
    I regret to inform you that your account with blip.tv has been terminated due to violation of our Terms of Service.

    Thank you,
    blip.tv Support
    well will try viddler :)
  33. primesuspect

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