Aurora borealis time-lapse video, and a caveat about uploading things to YouTube and other video sites

I’m sorry this isn’t iPhone enabled (silly that they won’t display Flash content) but I’ll have to work on compatibility another time. I uploaded this video to my blog’s Facebook page but they really destroy the video quality so I wanted to post it where it looks decent.

I’m a firm believer in applying enough bandwidth to make the video look decent in detail. I’d love to put it on YouTube or Vimeo, but there are problems with that. As a result, I’m hosting it myself in Flash Video (FLV) format. This will display on pretty much every device out there EXCEPT my beloved Apple devices – iPod, iPhone, iPad… bummer, but at least I maintain ownership of my content.

What’s that, you say? YouTube and Vimeo assume ownership of your content? Not exactly…but what they DO assume is a perpetual license to keep, use, distribute, and make new videos from your content. Once you upload to them, you’re without any rights whatsoever.

Here’s how you sign your rights away by uploading to YouTube, according to their Terms of Service page:

“However, by submitting Content 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 Content in connection with the Service and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in video Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your videos from the Service. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of your videos that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in user comments you submit are perpetual and irrevocable. (YouTube Terms of Service page)

Vimeo’s policies are equally disturbing:

“By submitting a video, you grant Vimeo and its affiliates a limited, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license and right to copy, transmit, distribute, publicly perform and display (through all media now known or hereafter created), and make derivative works from your video for the purpose of (i) displaying the video within the Vimeo Service; (ii) displaying the video on third party websites and applications through a video embed or Vimeo’s API subject to your video privacy choices; (iii) allowing other users to play, download, and embed on third party websites the video, subject to your video privacy choices; (iii) promoting the Vimeo Service, provided that you have made the video publicly available; and (iv) archiving or preserving the video for disputes, legal proceedings, or investigations.” (Vimeo Terms of Service Page)

So…have you uploaded something containing yourself, your kids, your friends, or anything else personal to you? Congratulations; you just signed away your rights to it. But it gets even worse; check out these two clauses:

“To the extent permitted by applicable law, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless YouTube, its parent corporation, officers, directors, employees and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from: (i) your use of and access to the Service; (ii) your violation of any term of these Terms of Service; (iii) your violation of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, property, or privacy right; or (iv) any claim that your Content caused damage to a third party. This defense and indemnification obligation will survive these Terms of Service and your use of the Service.”


“You will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Vimeo and its affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents, from and against all third party actions that: (i) arise from your activities on the Vimeo Service; (ii) assert a violation by you of any term of this Agreement; or (iii) assert that any content you submitted to Vimeo violates any law or infringes any third party right, including any intellectual property or privacy right.”

“Indemnify” means that if you post a video and someone decides to sue you for some reason – that could be that you used an Enya track without license, you showed someone in the video who did not give you permission to post their likeness on the Internet, or somehow otherwise prompted someone else to legal action – not only do you hold YouTube and Vimeo unaccountable, but you also agree to pay their legal expenses if they get sued for hosting your content. Do you have the money to pay for YouTube’s (ie, Google’s) or Vimeo’s legal team?

In the case of the video above, I take it (as with all my photography) very personally. That’s why I typically put those annoying watermarks on my photos; I got tired of seeing them pop up on people’s website or MySpace pages. I have no desire to give Google, Vimeo, or anyone else a legal license to do whatever they want with it. And, although I’m using the music under license, I don’t want to possibly expose myself to some huge corporation’s legal expenses.

By the way, Facebook has similar language but within different parameters (ie, subject to your Privacy settings). When it comes to Pages, which is how my blog operates there, it appears that Facebook makes no such assertions. Otherwise no other corporation would open up a Page there on Facebook because they’re not willing to relinquish their intellectual property rights either. However, if your personal Facebook account is public, so is your data – photos, posts, whatever – and you give them the rights to use them accordingly.

I have posted stuff to YouTube in the past, but not stuff that’s personally important to me. The exception to that would be my tribute to Sergeant Steve Kenner of the Bismarck PD, a video that I wanted to share with the community. When it comes to things like this though, where I want to reserve all rights of ownership and use, I’ve got to host it myself and suffer some compatibility issues. It doesn’t work the best across all platforms, but it remains mine.

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