Reclaiming Vimeo

I’m hoping to catch up on some blogging about stuff I have been doing with ds106.tv over the last month or so, but before that I wanted to quickly share an awesome tool that Chris Lott pointed me to a couple of years back called youtube-dl. Youtube-dl is a script you install on your computer (using Homebrew on the Mac) and once you do it allows you to effectively download all the videos associated with a Youtube account using a command such as:

youtube-dl https://vimeo.com/USERNAME -o "/Users/YOURUSER/Movies/%(title)s.%(ext)s"

As you can see from the command line above, this tool is not limited to Youtube, in particular it works just as well with Vimeo. And special thanks to Andrew Gormley for this guide that documents the process making installing everything from installing youtube-dl to backing-up all your videos dead simple. And just like that I was backing up all 266 videos to my hard drive.

Having lost 240 videos when my Youtube account was deleted in 2012 (something that still pains me 8 years later), I’ve done my best to avoid inviting the copyright ghouls to my content. Although, back in 2014 I did upload several Wire episodes to my Vimeo account for the Wire106 course, and I got 2 of 3 allowed copyright strikes by Vimeo, so I stopped uploading to that platform for quite a while. I did use it here and there again over the last 5 years, and after the return to ds106.tv my needs for a video platform seem more pressing. I’ve already written about presenting about The Girl Who Knew Too Much with Paul Bond for Antonio Vantaggiato’s Italian Culture course, but that was the instance that returned me to the conundrum I had avoided for years of not teaching: how do I share clips of a film I think are crucial to creating an argument as part of a course? Doing this led to issues on Youtube and then again in 2014 with Vimeo, so I was gun shy to say the least. That said, I believe sharing these clips as embedded links in my blog or as part of a recorded course lecture should be fair use, but Youtube (and most likely Vimeo) will never let it get to the point of such a defense given they’ll often cow to the entity claiming copyright and either take it down or delete your account.†

In this regard, video remains one of the hardest pieces of one’s digital life to truly Reclaim given it is still relatively expensive to stream technically, but as we continue to see that cost of storage and server CPU falling significantly, it’s not hard to imagine sometime soon it will be feasible to run your own video streaming service. I personally look forward to that day, because it will truly be a multi-headed hydra for bullshit DMCA copyright claims. So, in preparation for a liberated future for video, I now can upload my fair use clips of films I will be discussing in the coming months with the understanding that my account could go away at any point. And while it’s not just the videos that would deleted, I’ll also lose any metadata like views, comments etc., but luckily I have next to no metadata on that system because that platform is not the context for my discussion, it’s purely a means to an embedded end on my blog.

Back in 2013-2014 in the wake of my Youtube account getting deleted I uploaded a decent number of videos up to UMW’s media server Andy Rush was playing around with at the time. It worked well for a while but between the lack of institutional commitment and institutional knowledge moving on, those videos were relegated to a backup drive. A long-term solution for reclaim video online remains an issue (although the Internet Archive still reigns supreme in this regard), and the Reclaim Media idea I had back in 2017 when the Reclaim Hosting team was in NYC still is something I’d love to help build.* This is effectively a tool where you can Reclaim your media from sites like Youtube, Vimeo, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, etc. and brought into your own ecosystem whether as HTML for archival purposes, or into a comparable open source tool. Anyway, this is a small thing, but this project of having all my Vimeo files regularly backed up makes me feel freed up to actually blog the way I want and figure out the where and how of video as I continue down the road to full digital-self actualization 🙂


*All of which really stems from the Reclaim Your Domain conversation that led to the direction and name of Reclaim Hosting.

†In this regard I read an interesting post on TorrentFreak the other day wherein copyright folks were trying to get the source code for the open source bittorrent streaming platform Popcorn taken off Github given it is used by pirates to share and watch pirated films. And while the code was initially taken down by Github, after an appeal it was re-instated given the actual source code neither links to nor automatically downloads copyrighted material.

This entry was posted in Archiving, Domain of One's Own, reclaim, YouTube and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Reclaiming Vimeo

  1. Michael Smith says:

    Big fan of youtube-dl, been using it again the past few days to download old student projects so I can make shoutout video to graduates for our Zoom graduation.

    The copyright strikes thing is a drag and sadly does cause a change in how you use the service. I’ve successfully fought some copyright strikes, but lost others. Most recently ‘losing’ the battle over the Hulkout remix video, which I loved, and had taken down. There was the option to take the case one step further in which Youtube basically describes you’ll be open to a lawsuit. And I couldn’t justify continuing and worrying. Copyright battles are sadly about the means to defend yourself and the legal precedence for fair-use is in the corporate corner.

    Sadly I barely put up remix videos on Youtube now given I use it for tutorials for my students and don’t want to worry about losing the channel. I back-up work as well with youtube-dl and also use it to download Udemy tutorials I’ve paid for to have an offline copy to watch without internet. It’s an amazing tool!

    Write me in to support any effort to build / populate your Reclaim Media copyright troll honeypot!

  2. Eric Likness says:

    Reclaim All the Things,…
    Reclaim your Domain
    Reclaim Hosting
    Reclaim Radio
    Reclaim Video
    Reclaim Gaming
    Reclaim Twitter/Facebook/Vimeo/Youtube
    Reclaim Your Lifebits!!!

  3. John says:

    Hi Jim,
    You might be interested in
    https://github.com/jaimeMF/youtube-dl-api-server
    Might help with some reclaiming.

    I love YouTube-dl useful for lots of things. Some YouTube videos are blocked for me at work but I’ve got a Hazel script watching a folder in OneDrive on my home mac that will use YouTube-dl to download videos from ids in a text file added to the folder;-)

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