Vimeo change terms – details and a thought

13Jul09

Just emailed to me a few minutes ago – the statement from Vimeo and link to the Vimeo blog first – then my thought:

Vimeo: New Source File Policy
by dalas verdugo July, 2009

Hi everyone,

The staff here at Vimeo is committed to making this website stick around for a long time. We want your videos to live here for years and years, so that you can relive moments from your life and re-watch your creative achievements. In order to make that possible, we have to keep a close eye on the costs of running the site, and make sure that we’re not being irresponsible with our resources.

Since the very beginning, Vimeo has retained the original video files that you upload, and allowed you to grant people permission to download those files. We always take these original files and convert them so that they will play online and in the Vimeo player. We kept the original files for download because we wanted you to be able to save your video exactly the way it looked when it left your hard drive. This aspect of the service was not a huge burden on us when the site was younger, but we’ve had to take another look at what we are realistically capable of offering for years to come, while making sure the site stays on budget. Original file storage of every file for every user is a massive cost, and we have noticed that only a very small set of users actually ever download their own files. We want to keep original file storage around as a feature for people who use it, but we can’t continue to do it for everybody.

Starting August 1st, basic accounts’ original source files will be stored for one week from the upload date, after which they will be removed. Of course the converted Vimeo video will always be there in the Vimeo player, ready to be watched again and again, anywhere you choose to embed or share it. We will also still provide a download link so people can save the converted file to their computer (in MP4 format).

This new one-week policy applies to all basic accounts’ videos uploaded from this point onwards. For videos that were uploaded before this blog post, those original files will be available until August 1st, to give you some time to download them if you need to. After August 1st, those files will also be removed.

For Plus users nothing will change: we’re going to continue hosting your original video source files for both your existing videos and any new videos you upload. We appreciate your support, and we want to continue improving the Plus service, not limit it. If you choose not to renew your Plus service, we’ll keep your original videos for one month past the end of your subscription to give you time to download your videos or decide if you want to renew. Additionally, if a basic user upgrades to Plus within the one week window after they upload a video, that original file will be kept as long as they are a Plus member.

Please understand that this is not a devious scheme to force you to upgrade to Plus. This was a hard decision to make, but we make these changes to ensure Vimeo’s longevity so that you *can* use it for free. By making this choice, we keep ourselves in good shape to stick around and provide you with the absolute best video sharing experience in the universe!

The Thought: What if the little idea in William Gibson’s book Pattern Recognition, concerning additional information being hidden within digital video footage unless you know how to access it, were important for video media in the near future? Could the message become lost through the reformatting of the original video data by a server host service?

In effect, could the transfer process to a native Vimeo format render it impossible to communicate beyond the self-evident pixels within a movie, unless you sign-up to a paying account, so you may keep the original material?

Directors have already toyed around with providing alternative camera angles and different edits in video already. Perhaps in the future free video will mean free access to the surface layer only – or the most superficial part of video content, rather than the full version or message?

Just a thought.

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