Starting in October 2018, Vimeo has seen a significant and sustained increase in DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices filed by or on behalf of music companies. This escalation has impacted some of our creators, who may have seen videos uploaded years ago removed. In some cases, creators have seen their Vimeo accounts being disabled entirely.
We know the DMCA takedown experience is unpleasant for our creators. To provide as much transparency as possible to our community, this article provides additional context for the escalation in DMCA takedown notices, a list of recommended steps to protect your Vimeo account that everyone in our community should follow, a detailed communication timeline if your account is subjected to the DMCA notices, and some DMCA-related FAQs.
✦ DMCA Background
The DMCA, enacted in 1998, provides a framework for removing content online that infringes copyrights. A website like Vimeo isn’t liable for the copyright infringement of others as long as it does certain things. In particular, we must promptly remove videos when properly notified by copyright holders and terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. Our policy for handling DMCA claims has been in place since the start of the company.
The DMCA doesn’t just protect big companies, it also protects creators who don’t have the resources to file copyright lawsuits. To have content removed from a platform like Vimeo, a creator need only send a takedown notice. On the other hand, we wouldn’t be able to provide an open platform for creators if we were liable for every one of the millions of videos our users uploaded.
Some creators have asked us why we can’t work out deals with music companies, as YouTube has, on behalf of creators. Although we’d love to make things even easier for our creators, our business model makes it difficult to work out an arrangement with rights holders. Vimeo is an ad-free platform. We do not monetize plays of videos, so unlike YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, we have no revenue stream tied to video views to offer the music rights holders when a video contains their music.
✦ Vimeo's Repeat Infringer Policy
To stay within the DMCA framework, Vimeo is required to terminate accounts of “repeat infringers.” Since the founding of our company, we have used a “three strikes” policy: If an account receives three separate DMCA “strikes,” we will remove the account. A strike accrues when an account receives a DMCA takedown notice that results in a video being removed from that account. We may group notices filed within a short period of time as a single “strike.” We will remove strikes if the claimant withdraws the notice or when the account holder successfully challenges a notice.
✦ Challenging DMCA Notices
The DMCA provides a detailed process for challenging notices. The impacted user must file a “counter-notification,” which is essentially a legal claim stating that they had the legal right to upload the materials at issue. When you file such a notice, Vimeo will forward that notice to the copyright holder. If that party elects not to file a lawsuit against you within 10 business days, then Vimeo will restore your video.
We provide a form to submit counter-notifications here. It takes only a few minutes to file a counter-notice. This is a legal document, so make sure that you are certain that you want to file one.
✦ Steps to Protect Your Account
To avoid having videos, and potentially your account, removed, we recommend that you:
- Ensure you have all the necessary rights and permissions before you upload a video to Vimeo. If your videos contain any third party content, like a third party’s music, determine whether you have the right to use it. If you have any doubts, don’t upload it.
- Review and delete all videos in your account that contains unauthorized copyrighted material. Making those videos private is not enough.
- Ensure the primary email address on your Vimeo account is one that you check regularly as we send all legal notices to it.
- If you have received a DMCA takedown notice with respect to content that you had the right to use (such as licensed music or music used under fair use), we strongly encourage you to challenge that notice through the DMCA’s counter-notification process. This takes only a few minutes and, if you’re successful, we’ll restore the video.
✦ Communications from Vimeo
We will never delete videos or disable your account without providing a detailed email notice. In addition, we often take steps to notify you onsite. Here’s what we do when your account receives a DMCA takedown notice:
- Your first DMCA strike
- We remove the video.
- We add a DMCA “strike” to your account.
- We send an email to you (at the primary email address), which explains what happened and what you can do.
- Your second DMCA strike
- We follow the same steps as above.
- In addition, we display an onsite notification about the takedown. You won't be able to resume uploading new videos until you acknowledge this notification.
- Your third DMCA strike.
- When this happens, we remove the video and your account under our Repeat Infringer Policy.
- If you elect not to challenge any of the DMCA notices, you may contact us to grant you temporary access to your account so that you can download your non-infringing videos.
- You may not create a new account with Vimeo.