Vimeo Announces Creative Commons Licensing   But Are Users Hands Tied? cc vimeo icons Video hosting platform Vimeo yesterday announced on its blog its support for Creative Commons licensing, providing its members a more precise control over where and how others can use their own videos. But restrictions persist with how members can feature other rights-owners videos and other original works on Vimeo, even if they have the same clearances that Creative Commons provides.

The Benefits of Creative Commons Licensing

Vimeo Announces Creative Commons Licensing   But Are Users Hands Tied? creative commons logo Say you have an account with Vimeo. With a Creative Commons license, then you as the video rights holder, or "licensor," get to keep your copyright and are afforded full copyright protection. At the same time, you allow people to copy and distribute your video – provided that they always give you credit, and only on the licensing conditions you specify. Creative Commons and Vimeo describe it as "a great way to share and collaborate with others," giving its members "the power to reuse, modify, and distribute work – with others on generous terms" – and without requiring the rights users to have to contact the rights owners for getting permission.

Creative Commons Licenses for Web Video on Vimeo

Each time you upload a video, you're given a choice to select one one the six main Creative Commons licenses: Attribution, Attribution Share Alike, Attribution No Derivatives, Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike, and Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives.

  • Attribution – You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.
  • Share Alike – You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work
  • Non-Commercial – You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for non-commercial purposes only
  • No Derivative Works – You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

Vimeo Announces Creative Commons Licensing   But Are Users Hands Tied? vimeo cc upload

Vimeo Announces Creative Commons Licensing   But Are Users Hands Tied? vimeo cc example

Issues with Vimeo's Creative Commons Licensing Feature

  • No filtered search. You can't do a search Vimeo by Creative Commons licensing yet. (The Creative Commons own website's search function doesn't yet include the Vimeo site, either.) Vimeo has replied on its blog that they expect to have this feature included "soon.”
  • Can't apply a license to a batch of videos. Vimeo reports on their blog that they expect to add this functionality in the future as well.
  • Still can't upload content that's not yours. Vimeo's own site policy is that all of the content in your video on video must be original content. (Even public domain work cannot be uploaded.) So while Vimeo will allow its members to allow others to redistribute their work, Vimeo themselves won't allow its members to do the same on the Vimeo set. (Are you following this?) That's nothing of a legal issue for Vimeo – just their own site policy and business model for wanting to feature all-original content. (To note, it appears that Vimeo does make exceptions for remixed work, or work that is inserted into a newly-produced video; rather than just lifting any video from somewhere else and posting it up without making a truly derivative work of your own.)
  • No guarantee of compliance – just because someone posts a CC license does it mean that they've been certified by the U.S. Copyright office as the actual rights owner, or that they've had all potential legal issues cleared. It just means that they're claiming they do, and they're passing on shared rights to others. (But at least if a situation happens where the actual rights owner contacts you, you will be able to use the CC licensing notice as your alibi.)
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So just keep in mind that while you now have a better opportunity to share and distribute your videos on Vimeo with an affordance of legal protection, Vimeo still requires any account holder to own or hold all necessary rights to each video appearing in Vimeo, and to still follow the rules in their Community Guidelines.

Helpful Links

About Vimeo

Vimeo Announces Creative Commons Licensing   But Are Users Hands Tied? vimeo logo Vimeo is a video sharing and hosting site similar to YouTube, operating with a much smaller audience, but provding more professional features with its Vimeo Plus program. ($59/year.) The web publication Mashable describes Vimeo as ”an underdog compared to YouTube in the online video game, but the site's operators have nevertheless done a pretty good job of catching up with new trends and technologies, and have even led the pack in some cases," including with high-quality resolution, a user-friendly interface, social media tools, HTML5 streaming, and user analytics.

  • Steve

    fyi my videos weren't removed, because I posted a question to the Vimeo founders about whether it would be OK, first. My site doesn't make money, it just interviews startups. They were vehemently opposed to me using Vimeo because there might be some possibility that money could be made from it in the future (which was highly unlikely, and never happened). I then heard from a lot of other people - some of them with other video sites that aren't so picky; others that have posted tons of business content on Vimeo without a problem; and still others who were disgruntled because they had their content yanked, because Vimeo deemed it business-related. All of which is inconsistant; however they did make their policy very clear to me: NO BUSINESS VIDEO.

    I was really saddened, because Vimeo clearly ROCKS. But they seem to be confused about their ethics, or what their "business" is about. So, i went and paid $200/mo under a 1-year contract, for a similar service. Go figure...

    -steve bell |

  • Rap TV

    Vimeo is a business like any other we all make mistakes and we all have goals and deadlines moreover no on is 100% correct in every business marketing choice. Just hang on for a bit longer CC is new to most of us. All we can do is the best we can and trust that we are posting videos on a site that is not a scam in any way shape or form and our content is safe with them. RapTV has posted content online since the internet launched in 1989 and year to date never had any issues. RapTV is a strong supporter of Vimeo and will keep using it as will all of our members. We hope you will too. Please do not feel as if you are not going to have a voice with this company. They know what their doing and it is in the best interest of all the website users. any questions give us a call 916-473-1323

    • Steve

      "Vimeo is a business like any other we all make mistakes and we all have goals and deadlines moreover no on is 100% correct in every business marketing choice. Just hang on for a bit longer CC is new to most of us"

      just to clarify for myself, and others reading this... are you speaking officially, for Vimeo - as an employee?

      • RapTVLive

        No Steve, As a Vimeo user who has had only good things to say about the srevice since we started using it in the mid 2000's. What we look for in social video sites is exactly what Vimeo offers. Its accessable all the time with no complicated processes to undergo prior to usage of the site. The information on the videos I have watched is accurate and the links always work. I never get overloaded with email from them and they dont seem to be selling subscriber information to outside advertisers.
        Visit us some time at

  • Kevin

    I would love to know whether this will allow business videos to be uploaded as well. Vimeo took all of my business videos down with very little notice at all. I have seen TONS of other members using their videos for commercial purposes, and they continue to do so without any problems from Vimeo Staff. The business videos that usually stay up are the videos of bigger companies. Vimeo needs to offer a package that allows these types of videos to be uploaded.

    • Grant Crowell

      I would be interested to hear more information about what "business" style videos were removed. Was it clearly trying to sell something or promote a company over providing information or entertainment or editorial.

      I don't think Vimeo would be conducive to offering a package based on commercial propositions in videos, simply because its antithetical to Vimeo's own business model. However I think it would be alright to have quality videos shown on Vimeo that had sponsorships or advertisements.

  • Steve

    Vimeo strongly declares that you cannot post any business video on their site (although many people do otherwise). Will this change that?

  • Dugdale

    I would love to use this feature as long as the attribution forces then to link to my site.