Why you will regret using Vimeo.

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why… vimeo will ban you.

I was sitting enjoying some mulled wine and a mince pie when my iphone beeps with an incoming email. I debate as to whether I should check it. After all I am on holiday. Surely it could wait. However being the workaholic, I had to check.

Bloody good job I did.

The email read as follows:

We see that you are using Vimeo for uploading commercial content.

We’re sorry, but as stated in our Terms and Conditions of Use, on our Community Guidelines page, and on the upload page itself, Vimeo is for noncommercial use only, and we cannot host this content for you. Please take 24 hours to move your videos to another hosting service.

My immediate reaction was disbelief. After all I had read their guidelines which state:

You may not upload commercials, infomercials, or demos that actively sell or promote a product or service.

I didn’t believe any of my videos fell into this category.

My second reaction was ‘crap I only have 24 hours to sort this out. There goes my relaxing evening’.

Update: I have since been able to negotiate a week to sort out my hosting.

I quickly fired off an email asking for clarification:

Could you please clarify which video you feel breaches your terms and conditions.

After a reluctance to make it clear which videos were the problem, they finally came back with this list. (note I am in the process of moving these videos elsewhere).

Now I could possibly understand their position over the ecommerce sales post. Although it was intended to demonstrate good practice in ecommerce, it could be seen as a case study and so a sales tool.

However, the other three include a review for a firefox plugin and two that provides marketing and sales advice.

Excluding any talk of commercial products

Apparently Vimeo does not just wish to exclude content that is commercial in nature. They also wish to exclude content that relates to commercial subjects.

My understanding is that Vimeo are excluding:

  • Reviews of commercial products (even by third parties)
  • Advice that could be applied to a commercial organisation even if it could equally be applied to a not-for-profit.

However, them blocking 4 videos was the least of my problems.

The most insane bit of all! No player if you have ads

But that is not the end of the story. They also ban the use of their player on any website that includes an ad of any kind (even Google Adwords).

Their guidelines state:

You may not upload videos containing ads before or after the video, unless given prior written permission from an authorized member of the Vimeo staff. Videos with any advertisements in them, including links to commercial sites, regardless of content, will be removed.

My videos do not contain ads. However, the site does and that seemed to be enough.

This means that although they are only deleting the four videos above, I cannot even embed a video from Vimeo because I have ads.

Here is what Vimeo wrote to me:

Vimeo players cannot appear on domains running ads, its a decision we made in the beginning and have been going back and forth with allowing or disallowing it, but so far we cannot allow it unless it is with one of our partners. What keeps Vimeo different is it’s content enforcement, which in turn helps foster a nice and caring community.

Let me be clear. I am not just talking about videos I create myself but any video produced by anyone. If you create a great video and host it on Vimeo, I cannot feature it on Boagworld without breaking their terms and conditions.

Surely this is insanity!

A hit and miss affair

It would seem these problems are widespread. When I tweeted about the email from Vimeo Paul Annett referred me to this post he made in the vimeo forum.

In the post he points out that Vimeo seem to quietly ignore high profile websites that break their guidelines. He also asks Vimeo to clarify their position on commercial content.

Vimeo replied with this gem:

The content policy on commerciality is largely based on intent. We ask our users to ask themselves this question: “are you uploading these videos to make a profit?” if the answer is yes, then it most likely won’t be allowed on vimeo.

You really can’t get a lot more wooly than that. I was certainly surprised to discover my content was consider commercial as I did not see it that way myself (and still don’t). Ultimately what matters is what Vimeo thinks not what I believe. And the statement above certainly makes it no clearer how they judge.

Throwing away money

What astounds me about this is that I am paying client of Vimeo. Obviously, I will now be cancelling my account. However, if they had offered me a business account then I would have taken it. I would have gladly paid to avoid the hassle of moving all of my videos.

However, Vimeo seemed more than happy to lose my business and actively ignored any appeals to ‘come to an arrangement over payment’.

A final kick in the teeth

After becoming increasingly frustrated by the email correspondence with Vimeo I eventually decided to download all of my videos and host them elsewhere.

Unfortunately I discovered that several of the videos were impossible to download. I asked for help and was informed that this was a known bug. However, they had no intention of holding off blocking my website from playing Vimeo videos.

Fortunately I had backups of all but one of the problematic videos. However, that isn’t really the point!

The bottom line

So the bottom line is this. Don’t host with Vimeo whatever your content. You cannot guarantee how it will be perceived by Vimeo and if they do take exception to it, there is no upgrade path.

Read what lessons can be learnt from my experiences with Vimeo