YouTube On Video Ban: Sometimes We Make the Wrong Call, Vimeo: It Violates Our Terms

    May 3, 2011
    Chris Crum

Last friday, we reported that YouTube had banned a video from the group Mercy for Animals, which featured hidden camera footage of workers for the E6 Cattle company, mistreating calves. The video was indeed quite brutal and disturbing.

Mercy for Animals had reached out to WebProNews, explaining that YouTube had deemed the video a “gross out” video, that was ‘intended to be shocking, sensational, or disrespectful.” Looking at the video (embedded below), it’s obviously presented as an investigative report (warning: the content is graphic and disturbing):

Interestingly, Vimeo, a competing video site, had not pulled the clip…at first. After our first report on the subject, Vimeo actually did pull it, and YouTube reinstated it. A spokesperson for Mercy for Animals told WebProNews, “Nathan [Runkle – Executive Director} says that it appears that YouTube is once again hosting the video, while it appears Vimeo has removed it. They will be communicating with Vimeo, as they did with YouTube, urging them to repost the video.”

Runkle actually wrote a long letter to YouTube about the video before it was reinstated. We included that in the previous report. YouTube has since told WebProNews that it does not comment on specific videos, but a spokesperson did give us the following statement:

With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.
The video now carries a warning with it, and requires the user to be signed in when viewing from the site, not unlike other graphic videos (including movies).

Mercy for Animals might not have as much luck with Vimeo, however. Vimeo tells WebProNews, “Vimeo cares deeply about the issue of animal cruelty and has specifically banned content that contains ‘gratuitous animal cruelty.'”

“We removed this particular video because of its depiction of excessive violence against animals,” Vimeo adds. “While we understand that the point of the video is to protest cruel practices against cattle and we are sympathetic to that cause, it nonetheless violates our Terms of Service.”

Those terms of service can be found here. The relevant section says that users agree no to “upload, post, email otherwise transmit any Submission depicting gratuitous animal cruelty.”

So, Vimeo is right. The video, by definition, does violate these terms. Perhaps the real question is whether the ToS should be amended to reflect cases such as this. Vimeo has the right to keep this kind of content off its site if it so chooses. Nickelodeon probably wouldn’t want this content on their channel either, but Vimeo at large isn’t simply a kids channel either (though it does tout itself as a “respectful community”). It’s still a major channel for online video. It’s no YouTube, but it’s not a small fry either.

Do you think Vimeo should allow investigative reports like this, even if they are graphic in nature? Tell us what you think.