Vimeo has gone for nearly a decade without any automated copyright tool like Youtube's ContentID, but the good times have come to an end. Earlier today the video hosting site launched Copyright Match, a new system intended to "respect the boundaries of copyright law and the rights of other creators".
Over the last nine years, Vimeo has grown into one of the most visited video destinations in the world. We now have more than 26 million registered members, with over 170 million people swinging by monthly to watch awesome videos. At our size, we need a semi-automated system to help us enforce those beloved guidelines.
And so Copyright Match is a technical solution to an issue that affects many content-sharing services. Namely: we want people to be able to express themselves in the ways they see fit, but we also want to respect the boundaries of copyright law and the rights of other creators.
Describing itself as a home for original work, Vimeo sees Content Match as being the ideal balance between the rights of copyright holders and other creators. It builds on the mistakes we've all seen Youtube's ContentID make over the years, and tries to protect the original artists without unduly hampering creators who make new work that qualifies as a “fair use” under copyright law or is based on material that’s being used with permission.
Rather than automatically flag and remove any suspect videos, Content Match scans uploaded videos and asks the uploader to confirm that the video is legit. Vimeo will accept fair use as a defense, and they'll also note whether suspect video uses legitimately licensed content. In addition to letting uploaders plead their case, Vimeo also lets them replace or delete the video, on in certain situations replace the audio track.
It's too early to pass judgement, but at this point Content Match looks much more creator and user friendly than for example the system used by uStream, which in 2012 cut off the streaming video for the Hugo Awards when someone played a licensed clip from Doctor Who. It's also bound to be better than ContentID, which has grown infamous for blocking videos and penalizing uploaders for nonsensical reasons like a radio briefly playing in the background.