Archive for March 17th, 2008

Stanford University Campus revisited

I re-cut my old Stanford video today (different clip arrangement, a few new scenes, new color grading) and re-uploaded it. Unfortunately, the HD version is unusable on my 3Ghz hyperthreaded P4 now because Vimeo upgraded their Flash HD re-encoding to 30fps from their previous 24fps cap. The HD video plays very choppy. If they don’t fix this somehow, I will have to leave Vimeo and go with Blip.TV. I have no plans to buy a new PC. SD version below:

Additionally, Vimeo removed the ability to get high quality re-encoding out of 480p video, it’s now 720p, 1080p or nothing. As of right now, uploading 1440×1080 won’t give you the high quality re-encoding either (I filed a bug report with them).

Update: Not even my husband’s 2.4 Ghz Core2Duo Macbook Pro can’t playback the 30fps HD Vimeo version perfectly smoothly (every few seconds there are jumps). This is a feature that Vimeo should lay off for 2 more years and send a letter to Adobe to sit their asses down to optimize Flash more (the Flash player is single-threaded). Yes, the latest version of Flash is faster than the previous ones, but my husband is not allowed to install such software on his Google laptop so he still runs an older version. Basically, to be able to playback very smoothly the new Vimeo HD 30fps videos, you need Core2Duo 2 Ghz and above with the newest Flash version installed. These are very steep requirements. The old 24fps cap videos were playing back fine on 3.5 year old PCs, now you need a 1.5 year old PC or newer.

Update 2: Dalas from Vimeo re-encoded the video, I think it’s back at 24fps now, not sure, but it’s smoother now. Hopefully, users will be able to select if they want a 24fps or 30fps re-encoding so I don’t have to ask them each time…

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Video

As you may know, I am usually releasing my footage under the CC-BY 3.0 license. This license basically just asks for attribution if you reuse the work. There are some dangers though. What if some of your footage is used as an opening shot for a porn movie? Or what if a Neo-Nazi group uses some of your footage for their video propaganda? You see, if that’s not enough that controversial entities are using your footage, your NAME will be on their credits roll! Try to explain to CIA, NSA and FBI that you had nothing to do with it.

I had a long thought about this today, and I researched around a bit more. The CC-BY includes the following clause: “You must not distort, mutilate, modify or take other derogatory action in relation to the Work which would be prejudicial to the Original Author’s honor or reputation“. At first, this clause sounds good. But then, you realize that the artist’s “moral rights” (as this thing is called), are not defendable in every country. For example, in USA this protection does not always work because the “moral artist rights” here have a very specific meaning in the copyright law that only applies to some bizarre cases about photography. In Canada, some European countries and Japan, this clause could protect you. But in any case, you wouldn’t know for sure until you sue. But do you really want to go that far for a bunch of cheap footage?

So, realistically speaking, I have three choices:
1. Drop the CC-BY and use a more restrictive Creative Commons license (that’d probably be CC-BY-NC-ND, as the CC-SA does not fully protect me either). Public Domain does not help me either, because by default the PD license can be dangerous for some other reasons, plus I won’t be able to find good music to accompany my videos — using a CC-BY song with a PD video asks for trouble.
2. Hire a lawyer and write a custom license, that has bits from the CC-BY and a modified “moral rights” clause that explicitly prohibits a (legally defined) immoral re-use of the work.
3. Stop worrying about it and let the federal agencies figure out that I was not part of any “scheme” out there that might have used my footage because of its liberal license and has subsequently credited me for it.

I choose #3. Let’s live a little, give something back to the world, and let the world decide what to do with that something. You can’t babysit everyone in this world. Although I wouldn’t be happy if my footage is misused in ways that put me in trouble or defame me.

Update: My JBQ, who can read legalese as comfortably as reading Harry Potter, believes that the quoted CC-BY wording above is legally strong enough to protect the licensor from immoral adaptations of his/her works, even in US. So, we are all good. 🙂