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Summary:

Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo. A few years ago, video-sharing site Vimeo hit the big time with a viral video of its employees lip-syncing along to Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta after work one day. Now Vimeo and parent corp […]

Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

A few years ago, video-sharing site Vimeo hit the big time with a viral video of its employees lip-syncing along to Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta after work one day. Now Vimeo and parent corp IAC are coming under legal attack for promoting the creation and distribution of these so-called lip dub videos in the form of a suit filed by Capital Records, which is seeking retribution for what it alleges is copyright infringement.

The complaint states that Vimeo “induces and encourages its users to upload…audiovisual works,” which it then disseminates virally throughout the Internet. According to Capitol Records, the company’s staff actively participates in “making, selecting, commenting on, and at times choosing to delete” audiovisual works, including those featuring its own copyrighted recordings.

Earlier this year, Universal Music Group lost a copyright infringement suit against another video-sharing site, Veoh. It claimed that Vimeo Veoh didn’t do enough to protect copyright owners from users uploading their material. Veoh argued that it was protected under the DMCA “safe harbor” provision, which says video sites are not liable for content that users upload, so long as they take that content down after copyright holders alert them to the material.

The difference, according to Capitol, is that not only has Vimeo not tried very hard to protect copyright owners, but it actively encourages infringement. Capitol alleges that Vimeo’s use of copyrighted material is “not an accident,” claiming that the web site contains “a massive amount of content that features, and draws most (if not all) of its appeal from, the use of copyrighted works.” As a result, according to the complaint, Vimeo is not only aware of copyright infringement happening on its system, but “actively promotes and induces that infringement.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether using copyrighted music for lip-synced videos will be considered fair use on video-sharing sites, especially as recording companies increasingly separate their own professionally produced videos on sites like Vevo from user-generated mashups and lip dubs on YouTube.

Complaint Capitol v Vimeo

  1. Content Producer Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Do you go into an artist’s studio and steal paintings from the walls? Do you knock down poets and snatch their manuscripts? Then why is OK to steal songs from musicians. This is not some girl with a ukulele playing for her 100 YouTube friends, it’s a business using a hardworking rock group’s song to promote itself. They all belong in state prison.

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    1. The difference being, you can’t ‘take’ a song, unless you are actually suggesting these people are destroying every CD, score and recording save for their own.

      This is obviously a different situation. I’m not saying it’s right, but it seems like the most logical punishment is some sort of financial compensation, not state prison.

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    2. Before you go mouthing off about people “needing to be in state prison” for “stealing from musicians”, you should do your research.

      Sean Nelson, the frontman of Harvey Danger, sent Zach Klein of Vimeo an email about the use of their song in the Flagpole Sitta lipdub.

      “That Flagpole Sitta video made me incredibly happy, just when I thought there was NOTHING that could make me listen to that song again. A thousand thank you’s.”

      If anything, the use of the songs in lipdubs is free viral marketing. Stop complaining.

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    3. You do not make a single valid argument or point. How many pieces of artwork have you seen? I can come up with countless analogies and counter-arguments, but you’re dumb, and you don’t get it.

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    4. LOL This video is better than any music video the band could have made. It promotes the band as much as it does Vimeo. It’s a win-win. It’s not stealing. For something to be stolen than it would have to be missing. Harvey Danger should be happy to get the free promotion, as should Capitol Records <- douchebags. They should spend their time promoting their artists instead of trying to fight the Internet.

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    5. Hi,

      First of all you need to understand something. The artist makes little to no money from music sales. The record companies aren’t protecting their artists or their artists music, what they are trying to do is control who can listen and play music that they “own” the rights to.

      Lip Dubing if anything is a show of how much you really love a song. If I were a record label I would encourage this and promote it…not sue someone for doing it. They are fighting the people who buy the music and who enjoy the music…why? Because at this point you have already paid them.

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  2. Content Producer, I don’t think those analogies come close to adding up.

    To really be on the same level as stealing paintings from a studio and snatching manuscripts from a poet, I think you’d have to do something pretty wild — like steal a band’s master tapes or something.

    While unauthorized and quite possibly illegal, artistically, Vimeo’s lip-dub added something new and interesting to Harvey Danger’s work. And I guarantee you that Harvey Danger gained increased exposure and at least some CD sales from the millions of views on Vimeo’s vid.

    Whether those ends justify the means, I don’t know, but I can sure think of plenty of better people to send to state prison.

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    1. no, those ends don’t justify the means

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  3. In this paragraph I think you mean Veoh:

    “Earlier this year, Universal Music Group lost a copyright infringement suit against another video-sharing site, Veoh. It claimed that Vimeo didn’t do enough to protect copyright owners from users uploading their material. Veoh argued that it was protected under the DMCA “safe harbor” provision, which says video sites are not liable for content that users upload, so long as they take that content down after copyright holders alert them to the material.”

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    1. Yup, thanks.

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  4. I think you’d have to do something pretty wild — like steal a band’s master tapes or something.

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  5. redonkulous.

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  6. There are two sides to this. On one hand, there ought to be creative commons for stuff like this. On the other hand, this is a video that got a lot of views, and the song was part of that (plus it’s not like the song is distorted playing in the background, it’s very clear and high quality). Honestly, if it were up to the individual artists, things would be much more laxed, but record companies just won’t give up over this.

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    1. is it up to the artists — had the artists consent been sought, it may very well have been given. but it wasn’t. and that’s dishonest and illegal.

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      1. Read the first comments, the band loved it.

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    2. You said: “plus it’s not like the song is distorted playing in the background, it’s very clear and high quality”

      Please listen to this again. It is quite obviously nowhere near cd quality. Not only that, it isn’t even the same quality you’d here on fm radio. There are a lot of artifacts especially in the high end. It has low audio bit rate “pots and pans clanging” throughout most of the song.

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  7. Oh, when will Capitol (or @Content_Producer) ever understand that lip-sync videos and sampling actually promote their bands and help selling the tunes, especially since the artist’s name and song title are explicitly mentioned here? I (and 2.2 million other people) would have never heard of a band called “Harvey Danger” without this video that made my day uncountable times BTW! Embrace this free promotion, do not sue the creators!

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    1. the digital revolution is a good many years old now. there is absolutely no data whatsoever to support this oft-repeated claim (that piracy or whatever you call it is actually good for the music business)

      in fact, just the opposite is true — there are reams and reams of data showing that the business of being a recording artists is basically being destroyed. dollar and unit volumes sales are plummeting. maybe that’s inevitable. but can’t we PLEASE stop repeating the patently false silicon valley ideological nonsense that if only artists and record companies would open their eyes their businesses would prosper from all the piracy

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      1. Oh really? Maybe you haven’t seen the graph the record companies don’t want you to see:

        http://labs.timesonline.co.uk/blog/2009/11/12/do-music-artists-do-better-in-a-world-with-illegal-file-sharing/

        While all businesses may be suffering during the global recession, music sharing is helping sell music.

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  8. of course videos like this are in a legal grey area. the copyright holder can get them taken down if they WANT, but they look incredibly stupid in cases like this one. as the comment above me notes, these types of videos actually help sell songs.

    i like how youtube has allowed copyright holders to leverage these kinds of video by having a pop-up allowing watchers to link to itunes and buy the songs used (like in JK Wedding Dance, which was a real boon to woman-beater Chris Brown)

    i would like capitol to prove that they lost any revenue from this video or any lip sync video uploaded to vimeo or any other site. the only people profiting here are the attorneys.

    famous case in point, the “hey clip” on youtube uploaded in the summer of 2005 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_CSo1gOd48 )
    a very early youtube hit (now at over 28 million views) — more kids now know and love the pixies then ever did when this album was released in 1989.

    conclusion: Capitol Records – Obsolete Idiots.

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    1. the digital revolution is a good many years old now. there is absolutely no data whatsoever to support this oft-repeated claim (that piracy or whatever you call it is actually good for the music business)

      in fact, just the opposite is true — there are reams and reams of data showing that the business of being a recording artists is basically being destroyed. dollar and unit volumes sales are plummeting. maybe that’s inevitable. but can’t we PLEASE stop repeating the patently false silicon valley ideological nonsense that if only artists and record companies would open their eyes their businesses would prosper from all the piracy

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      1. http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_March2004.pdf

        @Insider – here’s the Harvard study. From back in 2004.

        From the abstract:

        A longstanding economic question is the appropriate level of protection for intellectual
        property. The Internet has drastically lowered the cost of copying information goods and
        provides a natural crucible to assess the implications of reduced protection. We consider
        the specific case of file sharing and its effect on the legal sales of music. A dataset
        containing 0.01% of the world’s downloads is matched to U.S. sales data for a large
        number of albums. To establish causality, downloads are instrumented using technical
        features related to file sharing, such as network congestion or song length, as well as
        international school holidays. Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically
        indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates. Moreover, these estimates
        are of moderate economic significance and are inconsistent with claims that file sharing
        is the primary reason for the recent decline in music sales.

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  9. This is a great example of the continuing power shift towards artists and away from record labels. Instead of innovating from the bottom up, they are forced to penalize (sue) from the top down, showing how obsolete they and their businesses models truly are.

    The money for artists has never been in their studio efforts and record sales, it has been in the touring and merchandise and Lip Dubs only help build their brand awareness. The bigger their influence, the larger pool they can draw from to make an honest living without selling their soul to the devil.

    You can find an active lists of Capitol Record artists to boycott here – http://www.capitolrecords.com/home/artists.html

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  10. I think the record labels should sue people who sing in their cars when others can hear their music.

    They should sue fans who sing at concerts with the band.

    fucktards.

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