Censorship, Filmmaking, Porn — May 17, 2014 at 12:37 am

What Happened When I Asked Vimeo To Define “Sexual Stimulation”

Censorship_for_DummiesAlmost a year ago I had a run-in with video hosting site Vimeo when they deleted four of my videos. I had a detailed conversation with them and asked them to define pornography. They restored some of the videos and I continued to use their service, uploaded trailers and documentaries. When Youtube deleted my old account in February I began using Vimeo exclusively.

Over the last few weeks it seems that Vimeo have been getting the censorship stick out. Jennifer Lyon Bell and Dusk TV had their accounts summarily deleted. And last week Lucie Blush also suffered from their censorship. Seems someone then decided to dob me in because yesterday Vimeo has summarily deleted every single one of my videos.

I want to post the correspondence because it reveals the slippery nature of censorship and corporate guidelines surrounding sexuality. It’s also useful for anyone who wants to use free video services like Vimeo.

Hello Ms Naughty (Louise Lush),

The following videos have been removed for violating our Guidelines:

Reason: Vimeo does not allow videos that contain explicit depictions of nudity or sexual acts, nor do we allow videos that seem primarily focused on sexual stimulation or designed to promote commercial activity of an erotic nature.

If you believe this was an error, please reply to this email in a civil manner with your reasoning (“I see other people do it” is not a valid reason).

Vimeo Guidelines

Regards,
Vimeo Staff

What’s frustrating is that they sent me an email a few days ago warning that I may be violating their guidelines. I accordingly deleted some of the abovementioned festival screeners, re-edited other films, added more mature ratings and generally reviewed the rest of my vids, trying to determine if they showed enough storyline and were tame enough for Vimeo.

Then BAM. The whole lot was just summarily deleted. The above list suggests they didn’t even notice I’d attempted to make changes. So naturally I typed up a response:

—————

Dear Vimeo.
You have just deleted every single one of my videos. Why?

You say that “Vimeo does not allow videos that contain explicit depictions of nudity or sexual acts, nor do we allow videos that seem primarily focused on sexual stimulation or designed to promote commercial activity of an erotic nature.”

I am a feminist erotic filmmaker. I create films that deal with sex, sexuality, sex work and feminism. I have won several awards for my work, including Best Experimental Short at Cinekink 2014 and 2 Honorable Mention awards at the Feminist Porn Awards. I have had my work on feminism and pornography published in academic books and I have presented work on feminism and pornography at the Feminist Porn Conference in 2013 and 2014.

My Vimeo account represents my work. My account included trailers for my short films and it also featured documentaries about the Feminist Porn Film Festival and the Berlin Porn Film Festival. My documentary “Something Better: Performers Talk About Feminism and Porn” featured sex workers and porn performers discussing their work and why they do what they do. It won an Honorable Mention at the Feminist Porn Awards in April.

3 days ago you sent me an email saying my films might be in violation of your guidelines. I went and looked very closely at your guidelines. They say:
“Vimeo does not allow videos that contain explicit depictions of nudity or sexual acts (in most cases), nor do we allow videos that seem primarily focused on sexual stimulation. (There are plenty of other websites for that.)

Of course, Vimeo respects creative expression above all else. That’s why we allow depictions of nudity and sexuality that serve a clear creative, artistic, aesthetic, or narrative purpose.

We also allow non-sexual nudity, including naturalistic and documentary depictions of human bodies.

Be sure to rate your content appropriately.

Although Vimeo allows artistic and non-sexual nudity, these videos must still be marked with a “Mature” content rating.

Help us keep Vimeo artsy, not porny.”

 

I then went through all of my videos trying to determine if they would fall foul of your guidelines. I re-edited several of them, I added mature ratings to the ones I thought might need them and I determined that the rest fitted in with your guidelines. To my eye, my films all depict sexuality but they also serve a clear creative, artistic and narrative purpose. My films all tell a story about sexuality and my trailers showed that. They did not depict any overt nudity. My documentaries deal with the issue of porn and sex and attempt to present those issues in a sensible, intelligent way. My full-length presentation about the history of women’s erotica discusses in detail the growth of alternative depicts of sexuality that speak to women. It was not explicit. My review video of the top 5 erotic films for women gave examples of the films and written reviews discussing each in an intelligent fashion. My Kaleidogasm films use distorted images to ask questions about the very nature of eroticism and what sort of imagery qualifies as “sexual” or not.

Put simply, my films fulfill your guidelines as stated on this page: https://vimeo.com/help/faq/watching-videos/reporting-abuse-and-violations#how-does-vimeo-determine-the-difference-between-pornography-and-artistic-or-non-sexual-nudity

So why have you deleted all of them? You say “Vimeo respects creative expression above all else” but then you delete EVERYTHING because it apparently deals with sexuality.

I would respectfully ask that you restore my videos.

I would also ask that you assist me in better understanding your guidelines because I did my absolute utmost to ensure I was complying with your rules.

* Exactly what does it mean for a film to be “primarily focused on sexual stimulation”? Does it mean primarily attempting to arouse the viewer? I would argue that my films and trailers weren’t doing that. Or do you mean the film primarily depicts people in a state of being stimulated? What of Hollywood films that show sex in this way?

* Can you give me some clear guidelines as to exactly what acts or depictions make a film “primarily focused on sexual stimulation?” So I can work out exactly what it is you think I’ve done wrong here.

* How do you define a “clear creative, artistic, aesthetic or narrative purpose?” What does that mean exactly? How much story or narrative is enough?

* Why would my documentaries about the Berlin Porn Film Festival and the Feminist Porn Awards be deleted when they are essentially news-reporting-style films about an actual event?

* Why would you think the video of my presentation to the Feminist Porn Conference in 2013 was “primarily concerned with sexual stimulation?”

* How do you reconcile the idea that you “respect creative expression above all else” but demand that films not deal with sex?

My Vimeo account is a paid Pro Plus* account. I have been a supporter of Vimeo because I thought it was the more “grown up” video site that respected artistic freedom and that’s why I wanted to pay money for my account. Deleting every single one of my videos without explanation is not treating me in an ethical way nor is it good customer service. I would appreciate a reply as soon as possible and I would also appreciate it if you restored my videos immediately.

Yours sincerely….

—————————-

I also sent a second email pointing out that my videos seemed to have been deleted without consideration of the changes I’d made.

Today I got a reply:

Perhaps we could have been clearer in our initial communication, and for that lack of clarity I do apologize.

The bigger issue with your videos is that many of them are advertisements for a third party porn site: brightdesire.com.

When our moderation team saw that these promotional videos were still in place at the expiration of the warning period they removed your videos as is our standard practice.

While commercial activity generally would be allowed if you had a PRO account, that exception does not extend to commercial activity of an erotic nature, like paid porn sites.

Although there were instances where the content of the videos did cross a line from our perspective, the bigger issue was their nature as an advertisement for erotic business.

Without commenting on the artistic merits of the underlying material, this is simply content that we have decided not to host.

At a content level, these matters are notoriously difficult to pin objective markers to. Without breaking out the old saw “We know it when we see it”, it is difficult to give general answers to your questions. A good rule of thumb is that anytime someone is touching a “bathing suit area” (their own or someone else’s) the video is likely to be flagged. With that in mind, I will try to clarify your specific points:

“* Exactly what does it mean for a film to be “primarily focused on sexual stimulation”? Does it mean primarily attempting to arouse the viewer? I  would argue that my films and trailers weren’t doing that. Or do you mean the film primarily depicts people in a state of being stimulated? What of Hollywood films that show sex in this way?”

This refers to both obvious attempts to be arousing for the viewer, and for people within the video to be stimulating themselves (or each other).

“* Can you give me some clear guidelines as to exactly what acts or depictions make a film “primarily focused on sexual stimulation?” So I can work out exactly what it is you think I’ve done wrong here.”

If sexual activity is the “selling point” of the video, and more or less the only thing that happens it would be more likely to be flagged as primarily focused on sexual stimulation. So a 2 hour documentary about humans sexuality with a few minutes of borderline footage would be much less likely to come under fire for this than a 2 minute video that showed only the borderline footage.

“* How do you define a “clear creative, artistic, aesthetic or narrativepurpose?” What does that mean exactly? How much story or narrative is enough?”

We judge this on a case by case basis and balance it against every other aspect for a contextual whole. For what it’s worth, this factor weighs in your favor in the majority of your videos but it is not dispositive.

“* Why would my documentaries about the Berlin Porn Film Festival and theFeminist Porn Awards be deleted when they are essentially news-reporting-style films about an actual event? Why would you think the video of my presentation to the Feminist Porn Conference in 2013 was “primarily concerned with sexual stimulation?

When it seemed as though you did not comply with the warning, all your videos were removed en masse. At that stage, we no longer single out specific videos. This can be a bit broad as an approach, but most of the time is the necessary step.

“* How do you reconcile the idea that you “respect creative expression above all else” but demand that films not deal with sex?”

Films can deal with sex, but when the overall focus is to provide sexual stimulation or advertise commercial content of an erotic nature we have chosen to not be the hosting platform for this type of material.

All that being said, I do appreciate that you are willing to make adjustments, and I recognize that we could have been clearer as to our specific issues so that your compliance attempts may have been successful.

I have restored your videos, and reset the warning clock now that I have hopefully provided a better understanding of our position and the specific issues you will need to address for them to remain.

Thank you for your patience,

Sincerely,
Sean M
VIMEO | Moderation Manager

So I got my videos back, temporarily, and a new warning email appeared in my inbox. But the problem is, this email doesn’t really clarify much at all. So I’ve sent off a new email to them:

Sean
Thank you for your reply and the restoration of my videos.I have some further questions on this subject.

You say that Vimeo does not allow “commercial activity of an erotic nature, like paid porn sites”. However this guideline is not mentioned anywhere in your official guidelines. Either here: https://vimeo.com/help/faq/watching-videos/reporting-abuse-and-violations#how-does-vimeo-determine-the-difference-between-pornography-and-artistic-or-non-sexual-nudity

or here: https://vimeo.com/help/guidelines

To quote the section on business:

—————————

Businesses may not use Vimeo Basic or Vimeo Plus to host videos. If you want to upload videos with a commercial intent, you must use Vimeo PRO.

Commercial content includes:

  • Videos promoting or representing a for-profit business or brand.
  • Videos containing any form of advertising.
  • Videos hosted on behalf of a business (e.g., uploaded to Vimeo and embedded on your company’s website).
  • Content that you intend to sell.
  • Product demos and tutorials.

If the videos you’re uploading fit any of these descriptions, you must use Vimeo PRO.

Exception! If you’re an independent production company, artist, or non-profit, you may use any account type (Basic, Plus, or PRO) to showcase your creative work.

There are certain types of commercial content we never allow.

  • You may not upload videos pertaining to multi-level marketing (MLM), affiliate programs, get-rich-quick schemes, cash gifting, work-from-home gigs, or similar ventures.
  • You may not upload spam or flood Vimeo with videos intended to drive traffic to your website.

——————————

So, it’s unfair to expect me to comply with a rule that isn’t actually listed on your site. When I paid my money for this account, that rule wasn’t listed anywhere.

I would also add that I am an independent production company – I’m a one-woman business, I make all my films by myself and I had counted myself as part of the exception listed above – I was showcasing my creative work.

My site Bright Desire is how I make money from my films. I have to have a membership site because I can’t use Vimeo VOD to sell my work, as it’s not allowed there. When content dealing with sex is ghettoized like this, you have to work within the existing adult system. My work can be considered to be porn but it also can be considered art. I am happy to use both terms but I do not accept that my work deserves to be ghettoized or censored because of its nature. I am constantly fighting for freedom of expression and the acceptance that films about sex deserve an equal place at the table.

That said, I want to continue using Vimeo as a way to showcase my work and I understand that you as a private company can impose your own rules. But I have some further questions.Firstly, I’m still fairly unclear as to what I’m going to need to do to comply with your new guidelines. I’d like some clarification here.

1. What exactly is a “bathing suit area”? What kind of bathing suit? A one piece? A bikini? Do you mean the genitals or do you also mean breasts and nipples? Do you mean only female nipples or also male nipples? I have an award winning video called “Dear Jiz” featuring Jiz Lee who is genderqueer i.e. does not consider themself to be a man or a woman. Are their genderqueer nipples OK or not?

2. I have a video featuring a woman lying fully clothed on a bed thinking about someone famous. That film is about fantasy and the inner monologue, it’s a little bit about narcissism and also about women’s sexual fantasies. Towards the end she touches herself in the “bathing suit area” while clothed. I could edit that out and leave it so she’s only just lying there *thinking*. Will the simple act of thinking about sex still be considered “stimulating herself”?

3. My films often have a dual purpose. They may be arousing (and that is ultimately in the eye of the viewer) but they are also designed to entertain, to tell a story, to incite emotion, to make people think, to explore new aspects of sexuality and to show underrepresented aspects and groups e.g. genderqueer and queer people. Part of my work is to counteract the negativity and misrepresentation of sex that occurs in a lot of mainstream pornography. In most cases sex is still the “selling point of the video” simply because the film is *about sex*. Nonetheless I can re-edit my trailer videos to focus on those latter aspects in the hope of meeting your guidelines. Will that be OK?

4. If your concern is that you see my films as being advertisements for my site, exactly what changes do I need to make to these films (beyond taking any focus off “stimulation”)? Are you saying I should delete them outright? What specific changes would I need to perform to comply with this new guideline about not advertising erotic content? Is it the descriptions that are the problem?

5. Can I assume that my documentary films do not need to be changed because they meet the existing guidelines?

6. You talk about a “warning period” but there’s no information anywhere as to how long that period is. Can you let me know so I’ve got an idea of how long I’ve got to make changes.

7. If I make changes, how will I know that someone has reviewed those changes?

So, the ball is back in their court.

I want to say that I am legitimately uncertain as to what I should do with my videos to make them comply. I can re-edit the trailers for my solo erotic films so they only show emotion and story but given that those films are ultimately about sex, will some pedant at Vimeo delete them anyway?

Almost all of my films have watermarks for Bright Desire, a promo at the end saying “See more at Bright Desire” and a link to BD in the description. This is how most Hollywood trailers work. I’ll probably have to remove the “see more” slide and the links but are watermarks OK or not? (And they should be OK, given that this is my content and I am trying to protect against piracy!) I can change my descriptions and titles happily but it’s not going to be fun re-editing most of my trailers. I can change my links to IndigoLush.com, my filmmaking site, although last year they declared that to be a porn site as well (it’s not, it’s my showcase site).

And also, can I just say I’m completely perplexed by the “bathing suit area” comment? Are Vimeo content moderators too frightened to say the word “genitals”?

I said this in my previous post but I’ll say it again: I know that I don’t have to use Vimeo. They’re a private company and they can make rules as they see fit (which is why I’m trying to comply). Still, the internet has increasingly become corporatized; the public spaces on the internet now belong to Facebook, Google, Instagram, Yahoo and Vimeo. Google is more inclined to give traffic to my Vimeo videos than my own sites. Thus, if I want to get my work seen by people, I need to interact with these companies.

When you are making content that deals with sex, you are instantly sent to the internet ghetto. And these companies that are monopolizing public space on the net are squeezing out people who are legitimately trying to make a better and more positive kind of porn/erotica/sexual art. I don’t want to be told to just go and put my content on Pornhub. I don’t belong on Pornhub with it’s horrifically sexist ads and stolen content. I belong on Vimeo which is supposed to be about supporting artists and valuing filmmaking.

Hence, I’ll fight this and share the results with the world. It’s probably futile but these questions need to be put to the large companies. Maybe someone, someday will finally listen.

Update, 17th, evening: I realized that I didn’t have time to wait for answers because I will be away from home in the coming week. So I’ve now spent my entire Saturday re-editing my trailers, removing any hint of sexual activity, emphasizing storylines and emotion, removing the watermark to Bright Desire and replacing it with IndigoLush.com.  I’ve made changes to my descriptions and made an effort to emphasize the various film festivals each film has screened at. Will it make a difference? I have no idea.

I also have a few short films that will face the axe purely according to the whim of the person at Vimeo judging these things. I personally think those films have artistic merit and can’t – won’t – change them. We’ll see.

Update 20th May (my time): The weekend is over in the US so Sean M from Vimeo has replied. Here’s his response:

We could certainly be clearer about the “no commercial activity of an erotic nature” rule, and we will definitely be taking steps to spell that out more explicitly (no pun intended).

We also appreciate that you are willing to work with us on these guidelines issues, and the no doubt extensive work you are having to perform to conform to our rules. I have made a note on your account to not take a mass action, but rather deal with future violations on a video by video basis. I appreciate that this may be time consuming, so I have also extended the countdown timer to a full month, since we are conducting a good faith dialogue on these issues. (You may get another email warning you that I triggered the countdown).

To the rest of your specific points and questions:

“I would also add that I am an independent production company…”

That exception does apply, but we are also dealing the nature of the films being sold on the third party site, as well as content issues with the videos themselves.

“My site Bright Desire is how I make money from my films…. My work can be considered to be porn but it also can be considered art. I am happy to use both term…”

I’m not disparaging the level of artistry on display in your films or making any value judgements. If even the creator can consider it porn, it is simply not the type of content we wish to host on Vimeo. If you are making money from selling these films, then you are using Vimeo to advertise an erotic venture which is something we do not allow.

“1. What exactly is a “bathing suit area”? … Are their genderqueer nipples OK or not?”

I could have been clearer. “Bathing suit area” (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bathing%20suit%20area) is sometimes used as a euphemism for the parts of the body that are generally covered up in public, which is how I meant it.

To be more precise: stimulation of genitals, breasts, nipples, and butts are not generally permitted. Overly sensual rubbing, caressing, or licking of the areas in between and surrounding those would also raise concerns i.e. thighs, stomach, etc.. I should also mention that activity that is sexual in context would be another problem, i.e. toe sucking, foot worship, bondage, and other fetish content.

The nipples you mentioned, provided no one is rubbing, licking, or touching them and they are not being otherwise manipulated (clothespins, etc.), would probably not be an issue.

Purely artistic and documentary films that don’t advertise a third party erotic pay site would likely have a bit more latitude in terms of interpreting these rules and what they can get away with.

“2. Will the simple act of thinking about sex still be considered “stimulating herself”?”

Masturbation is a big red flag. Touching herself, even over clothes, could potentially be an issue. When referring to parts & people on screen being stimulated, I mean in a visual and/or physical way. “Stimulate” as a verb in this context would mean to rub, lick, massage, caress, tickle, or otherwise physically manipulate in a way meant to sexually arouse the person being so manipulated. Erect phalli and nipples are usually strong indicators that the video is not within our guidelines.

Videos can be sexually stimulating if they seem designed primarily to arouse the viewer, and will generally have a great deal of physical “stimulation” going on in them.

Again, the artistic/aesthetic context is interpreted much more favorably when the videos are not advertising third party porn sites. If there were no promotional materials for the commercial content of an erotic nature, and the depiction had a clearly artistic purpose there would be more freedom to explore the physicality of the storyline within the video.

“3. I can re-edit my trailer videos to focus on those latter aspects in the hope of meeting your guidelines. Will that be OK?”

In an overwhelmingly artistic context, we have a broader spectrum of how this type of thing can be depicted, but when the goal is to sell porn off-site, we take a harsher view. Films “about” sex are welcome. Films that advertise third party pornography sites are not. The more documentary-style films that explore the cultural discourse about these issues while taking a clear editorial/aesthetic stand are much more in line with the content we wish to host and we do actually encourage it.

“4. What specific changes would I need to perform to comply with this new guideline about not advertising erotic content? Is it the descriptions that are the problem?”

The content issues and the erotically commercial nature are separate but related. To comply, please remove any mention of the third party commercial porn site from the description and the videos themselves. Deleting the more advertisement-focused videos may be easier, but if you can edit them so that they do not promote the third party porn site, and the content is in line with what we have discussed, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

“5. Can I assume that my documentary films do not need to be changed because they meet the existing guidelines?”

We haven’t reviewed every single video you have uploaded, so they should all get a fresh look based on these conversations. That said, videos on the more documentary end of the spectrum that don’t advertise a specific porn site should be much more likely to pass muster.

“6. You talk about a “warning period” but there’s no information anywhere as to how long that period is…”

You should have received an email with an initial time and date of compliance. It was one week, but I have extended it to one month. The expiration is now: Thursday, June 19, 2014 11:38 AM

“7. If I make changes, how will I know that someone has reviewed those changes?”

If you have questions about a specific video, I can try to answer them for you. But what really matters from a Community Guidelines perspective is whether the end result violates them, not whether the current version violates them less than the initial version. Our moderation team reviews videos as they are. However, I have made a note on your account that you are trying to work with us, and to take any future action at the video level rather than at the account level. Of course, that could change if there are consistent and prolonged instances that show we won’t be able to work out a mutually amicable middle ground.

I do hope that isn’t the case.
Sincerely,
Sean M
VIMEO | Moderation Manager

Here’s my reply:

Sean
Thank you for the month’s grace. I really need it as I’m about to be away from home for a week and can’t attend to this issue.

Because I was going to be away and didn’t know when the time I had would run out I spent most of Saturday editing the videos to try and remove what could be seen as a commercial intent or advertising nature. I focused purely on story and also attempted to focus on the filmmaking nature of my work. This is because I DO want to promote myself as a filmmaker and I submit my films to festivals. To this end, I’ve changed the watermarks on most of them to IndigoLush, which is my filmmaker/showcase site. I’ve removed links to Bright Desire.

Unfortunately, lacking guidance, I did leave the Bright Desire logo at the start (or end) of some of the re-edited films. Because that’s the company that makes the films. Let me know if this is unacceptable.

The BrightDesire watermark remains on the documentaries and some of the full short films, simply because I haven’t had a chance to edit those yet.

I changed one of the trailers completely – it now shows an interview, bloopers and 3 snippets from the film. Do you consider behind-the-scenes footage or bloopers to be advertising?

I’m also aware that I feel that some of my short films have their own artistic merit but a moderator may see this differently. My film “Gratified Grateful” is probably the main example of this. That film to me is completely about relationships and intimacy, gratitude and celebrating sexuality, but someone else may just see it as dirty. I can’t do anything except throw that film to the mercy of whoever reviews it and see how it pans out. I won’t edit it beyond removing the references to Bright Desire because I feel that doing so would compromise the artistic integrity of that film.

That said, I will continue to work to make whatever changes are necessary rather than delete videos outright simply so that – if nothing else – the video remains available on various embeds and on Google listings.

A couple of points: The warning emails contain no information whatsoever about how long the user has to comply. At least, the ones I got didn’t say anything. They simply said that I may be in violation of a stated guideline. There’s also no indication of what action IS required beyond simply looking at the guidelines. A bit of info like: “You have x time to re-edit or delete your video” might be helpful.

Re-editing and re-uploading everything (again) is going to take me a couple of days at least. This is a substantial amount of my work time. I had hoped that I could perhaps make changes via the “Enhancements” module but I’ve realized it’s not like Youtube – I can’t cut bits out of, or blur, or add comments to, existing uploaded films. So as a user, can I suggest that Vimeo think about making that kind of thing available?

I am part of a wider community of filmmakers who deal with erotic material or seek to depict sex in their films. I’m going to let these people know about your answers as several of them have had accounts summarily deleted recently.

I also want to say that, while I will comply with Vimeo’s guidelines, I continue to find it perplexing that such punitive rules are being applied to content dealing with sex, especially given that Vimeo has made the effort to create a “Mature content” rating for videos. I understand the rules about no explicit sex – the 2257 rules in the US mean that you must legally comply – but the specific rules against “sexual stimulation” seem unnecessarily puritanical and help to perpetuate stigma against those who seek to explore this topic in an intelligent way. It’s also galling to deal with this censorship when I’ve paid for the service.

So, the saga continues. At least they’re talking to me, which is a point in their favour and more than Youtube offered. And I’m glad they have given me a month.

I now have the distinction of being the person responsible for Vimeo hardening their guidelines. Sorry about that, everyone.

I find it worrying that Sean says they haven’t actually reviewed all of the videos in my account. This means the initial deletion occurred without a moderator watching my content. I suspect decisions were made based on titles, descriptions or simply the preview image of each video. Suffice to say, this is a less-than-fair way to judge whether a video is violating guidelines or not. And I’ll be sure to be extra careful with what images I use on all of my re-edited videos.

So I will do my best to dance to their tune because I need to keep those videos live (and I paid for this goddam account). But as I say in my final paragraph, this kind of puritanical nit-picking censorship is enormously frustrating. No hard nipples! No foot worship! No fetish content at all! The “bathing suit area” apparently includes thighs and feet (a neck-to-knee? a burkini?). And the viewer must NEVER EVER be allowed to become aroused as this will somehow lead to Vimeo’s downfall.

This conversation is typical of the absurdities that occur when you drill down into censorship rules. What is art and what is porn? Why are hard nipples a problem? Why should we not be allowed to see a thigh being stroked? What is wrong, exactly, with depictions of sex? Why does it matter if the viewer becomes aroused? Why is “this sort of thing” seen as something that can damage a company’s reputation?

It also seems pointless to say that Vimeo already features a multitude of erotic videos that clearly violate their guidelines. And is it even worth bothering to point out the hate videos, the violent videos, the content that is given a pass because Hollywood makes it?

Sean’s iteration of all the things that can’t be shown tends to contradict the guidelines that say: “Of course, Vimeo respects creative expression above all else. That’s why we allow depictions of nudity and sexuality that serve a clear creative, artistic, aesthetic, or narrative purpose.”

I’ll continue to keep this post updated as correspondence continues.

Update 21 May

Another reply from Sean M. :

It would be better to change the watermarks completely, but with the extended deadline you should have more time to do so.

Bloopers and scenes don’t necessarily advertise the film, but if there links, banners, and/or calls to action then it is veering into advertisement territory.

Your video https://vimeo.com/79848709 edges up to the line in a few snippets, but taken as a whole would pass at the content level without the watermark advertisement.

The initial email with the header “Attention required on your Vimeo account” should have had a sentence “After X hours, we will review your account again to make sure this action has been taken. If not, your videos and/or your account may be removed by a Vimeo moderator.” If that was lacking, there may have been an error. Could you forward the initial email to me and I will see if there was an error in our system.

Your opinion of our guidelines is noted, and while I can definitely understand your frustration with our stance on these matters I do appreciate the fact that you recognize we have a choice in deciding what type of content we wish to provide hosting for.
Sincerely,
Sean M
VIMEO | Moderation Manager

I have to get on a plane soon so I’m not going to send a reply or do anything until next week.

[EDIT 23rd May]. I made a rushed comment yesterday about this latest email thinking that Sean’s “up to the line” comments referred to the Tease trailer. They weren’t. So I’ve deleted that comment. I guess trying to make commentary on censorship shouldn’t happen early in the morning when you’re supposed to be packing and walking out the door :)

 

Related posts:
What happened when I asked Vimeo to define “pornography”
Am I terminated from Youtube or not? (answer, I most definitely was, without being able to speak to a human being)
I’ve been censored by Youtube – a critical look at Youtube’s guidelines re sex.

* Note: I’ve just realised I wrote “Pro” in my original email when my account is actually a lesser “Plus” account. Got confused with the terms. I don’t have a Pro account simply because it is for business and I knew that Vimeo would not support me using that account for my business. I did not, however, think that using the Plus account to put up trailers for my films was an issue -especially given the line about supporting independent filmmakers.

5 Comments

  1. I think your responses are precise and brilliantly thought-through. Glad you’re fighting this.

  2. Hope it works out. Sounds like a real headache.

  3. Such a maddening stance. Thanks for going to the mat!

  4. Feminist porn or not feminist porn is still porn. And it looks like that’s against their rules.

    • Some questions John:
      * Please define “porn”.
      * Why do you think the videos I had on Vimeo are “porn”?
      * Can you tell the difference between “art” and “porn”?
      * Do you think it’s reasonable that Vimeo should delete videos that are “primarily focused sexual stimulation” but not delete videos that are, say, violent or hateful?