Which Video Sharing Site?

Since I broke the news about Vimeo.com‘s very flexible (for them!) Terms of Service a week or so ago, with regards to an iStock exclusive’s issue, I’ve had comments about how people are pulling out of Vimeo and looking for other video sharing services.

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Looking just at the Terms of Service, let’s check out a few other video sites where you can upload your user generated content, and see if they are fair for you.

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YouTube seems to have a fairly tight legal wording in their TOS restricting their usage just to facilitating the website, and terminating usage and their rights after removal of your content.

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For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Website.

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Even though written by a lawyer, this legalese seems pretty clear that their rights and usage are restricted to those needed to run the sharing website.  There is no right for them to redistribute your content for any reason they like in these terms.  This seems like a fair contract.

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blip.tv has slightly looser wording in their initial paragraph, although it seems to be refined later on to restrict their license just to services provided by blip.tv .

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… you are granting Blip.tv, its affiliated companies and partners, a worldwide, revocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, transfer, transmit, distribute and publish that content for the purposes of displaying that content on Blip.tv and on other Web sites, devices and/or platforms

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Again, that last, loose bit about “other” sites seems to be tightened up here:

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When you upload or post content to the Blip.tv site, you grant Blip.tv a license to distribute that content, either electronically or via other media, to users seeking to download it through the Blip.tv site or for purposes of other services provided by Blip.tv and to display such content on Blip.tv affiliated sites.

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So, if you are ok with the services provided by blip.tv, this seems fair.  Also, they have a termination agreement, although to finalize it, you need to send an email.

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When you delete content from Blip.tv, such deleted content, while not available to the viewing public and other Blip.tv users, will remain on the Blip.tv server until such time as you make a specific request to Blip.tv for permanent deletion of such content from the Blip.tv server. Such requests must be made in writing, via email…

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Again, as a regular consumer who likes to read these things, I’d say this agreement seems pretty fair.

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Users of Nokia’s ovi.com will find the TOS a little light in the legalese.  They don’t claim copyright, as is usual, but they certainly do want very flexible terms of your uploaded content.

However, by submitting Material to the Service you grant Nokia a worldwide non-exclusive, assignable, fully paid, royalty-free, perpetual and irrevocable license to use, copy, publicly perform, display, distribute and modify the Material, and to prepare derivative works thereof, or incorporate the Material into other works as well as sublicense the same.

This smacks of Vimeo’s over reaching terms.  They aren’t restricting their usage and rights to the facilitation of the site.  There is also no mention of removing material, and they may “modify the Terms at any time without prior notice”.  I’d say to avoid ovi.com at this time, until they find they have to work a little more on their terms.


Well, we all know the flack facebook got for their overly flexible terms of service a month or two back, but let’s check in anyways to see what ther terms say currently.  Right now, they don’t seem that bad.

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

That is one long sentence, but everything seems to be tied to “on or in connection with the Site”.   Which is good.  Their use is restricted to the workings of the site, including “sublicenses”, which is what they grant to other users to be able to watch your material.  And their removal terms are back, currently:

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire..

As is, currently, facebook.com looks ok to share on, with a fair contract.


In their TOS, smugmug.com definitely steps away from any nuance that they might want to exploit your works.

You retain the copyright in any User Content you post on the Site. SmugMug neither has nor wants any ownership of your Content. However, by uploading and/or posting any User Content to the Site, you grant SmugMug a perpetual, nonexclusive and royalty-free right to use the User Content and the name that is submitted in connection with such User Content, as is reasonably necessary to display the User Content, provide the Services and to facilitate, at Content Owner’s direction, the license of Photos or the sale of Products on the Site.

No mention of a removal policy, and the typical “we’ll change things without notice” mention:

SmugMug reserves the right at any time, in its sole discretion and without notice, to suspend, modify, discontinue or permanently cancel the Hosting Services, or portions thereof; and the Subscriptions and Subscription Plans, including making changes to any policies, features and terms applicable thereto.

Overall, this looks like a fair place to store your videos.


Hopefully this will give you some things to think about as you look at the terms for your next sharing site.  Look, I’m not saying Vimeo or anyone else is purposefully trying to take control of your work with an intentional rights grab, or intending to profit from you without compensation.  However, isn’t it better to work with people who have taken the time to craft a fair and responsible contract, with provisions for both sides?  Loose terms, minus intent, just seems to indicate laziness to me ( insert famous “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV” line here).

Spend your “content investment” somewhere where you feel safe, and somewhere that you feel treats you fairly.

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