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Summary:

Vimeo got itself into serious hot water with some of its users this week. Citing concerns over copyright infringement, file size, and the fact that the service was intended as “a place to share video with friends and family,” company Community Director Blake Whitman announced that […]

Vimeo got itself into serious hot water with some of its users this week. Citing concerns over copyright infringement, file size, and the fact that the service was intended as “a place to share video with friends and family,” company Community Director Blake Whitman announced that the video-sharing site would soon stop hosting “videos that simply depict individuals playing a video game.” (Only machinima, narrative movies using edited footage captured from a video game or virtual world, like this great Second Life machinima on Vimeo, is excepted from this ban.)

Unsurprisingly, furor over this ill-conceived announcement quickly followed. At last check, Whitman’s post had garnered nearly 900 comments, most of them negative, with the anger now overflowing across sites like Kotaku and Slashdot Games. Given the response, and the fact that the policy left a lot questions unanswered, I contacted Whitman last night to get his perspective.

What, I asked, exactly qualified as “machinima”? The classic World of Warcraft video “Leeroy Jenkins“, for example, is often classified as such because it’s widely viewed as a scripted comedy sketch, though the game footage itself was shot “live” and unedited. “We would consider our definition of machinima to be the same as Wikipedia’s,” Whitman told me in email. “Although the Leeroy Jenkins video is hilarious, that video would not be allowed on Vimeo.”

Whitman wouldn’t comment on the backlash over the announcement. When I asked if the company had actually received copyright complaints from game publishers, he didn’t answer directly, instead citing Vimeo’s general DMCA policy.

In any case, the new policy seems short-sighted on several fronts. Most game companies have an informal “look the other way” response to fan-uploaded video game footage, knowing it only helps promote their product. Microsoft and World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Studios explicitly encourage it for non-commercial use. But Vimeo’s bigger mistake is assuming video games are not something friends and family share. As the saying goes, “World of Warcraft is the new golf,” and online games are an important social space not just for basement-dwelling geeks, but Silicon Valley execs and British digerati. In missing this powerful cultural shift, Vimeo will likely lose a substantial part of its audience to game video-centric sites like WeGame and, of course, YouTube, which is already partnering with game publishers with gangbuster results.

Image credit: www.vimeo.com.

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  1. Why Vimeo’s “No Game” Policy Is a Mistake – NewTeeVee – WOW News Blog – Bringing you the latest World of Warcraft news, updates, tips and articles. Thursday, July 24, 2008

    [...] by Google Inc. and Powered by [...]

  2. I’ve heard that other FREE services have certain/specific content that they don’t want posted on their sites as well.

  3. Why Vimeo’s “No Game” Policy Is a Mistake Thursday, July 24, 2008

    [...] Random Feed wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

  4. GameVee.com is a video sharing site specifically for gamers. They do high quality conversions and can also pull Halo 3 films from your XBOX 360 can convert them for the web as well via Grab without a capture card. http://www.gamevee.com

  5. It seems “short sighted” to claim the decision was a mistake so soon after it was made. None of us can predict the impact this decision will have months from now. We’re doing what we perceive to be the best for our community.

  6. I think what Vimeo is doing is perfectly fine.

    Vimeo was not created to share things “with family and friends”. It was created as a larger creative community. They want to create a network of creative videographers not screengrabbing gamers.

    I agree with Dalas as well, such early comments are completely baseless and any effect will take a while to truly be reflected.

    I think this is a smart move on Vimeo’s part. There are plenty of other sites to share gaming videos on and I never saw Vimeo as one of them.

  7. There are plenty of other websites out there for gaming videos. http://www.wipido.com is another one of them. Vimeo is making a strong editorial decision for the betterment of the community.

  8. From what I gathered by actually reading the reasons behind this move, it has nothing to do with copyright. It’s based on the amount of resources these videos use up, and how they affect the larger community of users.

    In the end, it’s a free service by a private company, so they can obviously do anything they want. From my experience there, they always put the user first in their decisions. I could see them doing the same thing if thousands of people started uploading 30min screencasts of filling out Excel spreadsheets.

  9. Look…this is a place for people who have talent and not those that have too much time on their hands. Stop complaining…there is other places to post your RECORDING OF GAMES…

  10. GameVee has HD videos similar to Vimeo. everyone i know is moving there. WeGame is basically YouTube quality…

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