imeem

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Website
Name: imeem
Owner/Maintainer:
Dates: 2003-2009
Type: media hosting/streaming
Fandom: n/a
URL: http://www.imeem.com
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Contents

imeem was a social media site that allowed users to upload and stream music and videos.

It was adopted as a new fannish home by the Livejournal and other segments of the vidding community in 2006.

In June 2009, imeem announced that it would discontinue its video-hosting service in five days.[1] Site users were not at all pleased with either the decision or the five-day warning.[2] There was a flurry of blogging activity as vidders left the service and tried to find alternative sites to host their work.[3][4]

MySpace bought out imeem on December 8, 2009.[5][6]

See more about imeem at Wikipedia.

First, a Little History About Streaming Fanvids

imeem played a significant role in enticing segments of the media fandom vidding community into “coming out” and embracing the concept of online streaming access to their fanvids. By the early 2000s, fanvids had spread far across media and anime fandom as technology made vidding more accessible and affordable. This new generation of vidders saw streaming their fanvids online in places such as YouTube as a natural outgrowth of their online fandom activities.[7]

However, to a small segment of media fandom vidding, the increased visibility of online vids continued to be met with skepticism and uncertainty. With fanvids borrowing from both music and video sources, there was a real and ever present concern that vidders would be subject to copyright take down notices and even litigation. One group of vidders was found primarily in Livejournal communities, although many in the group also operated out of mailing lists and forums. Each of these platforms allowed vidders some measure of controlling the access to and dissemination of their fanvids either through password protection, members’ only lists or forums and obscure Livejournal communities.

Online streaming, in contrast, was open access with few if any controls. At the same time, the then-current video streaming technology gave some vidders pause as they did not like the (initial) low quality and jerky playback of streaming video sites. Vidders who spent days trying to time their edits to the beat of a song did not want to watch that effort be undermined by dropped frames and long buffering pauses.[8]

According to a 2010 study done by Lynn C., in 2006 only one AMV vidder had overlapping connections between the the anime and Livejournal media fandom vidding communities. For the complete graph and report "Vidding Evolution: Community Change Among Amateur Fan Video Makers" (April 2010) go here.
By 2010, there were many more connections between anime and LJ media fandom vidders

There were also perceived social divisions between groups of vidders. The anime and media fandom (or live action) vidders rarely crossed paths and often failed to acknowledge the other group existed. And within live action vidding, fans who came out of the VCR vidding tradition and who migrated to blogging platforms like Livejournal found themselves separated from the newer generation of vidders who entered vidding only during its digital era.[9] The former group was more cautious in terms of vidding visibility while the latter group was more open to the concept – after all, online vidding was the only way they had ever known.

2006: Streaming Fan Vids: Doubts and Fears

That changed in 2006. Even though thousands of fan vids had been posted to YouTube, by 2006, the Livejournal vidding community relied on downloads to distribute their vids with the links being announced in private journals and blogging communities such as “vidding”. Private streaming was not an option for many vidders as both the technology and the personal resources to handle the increased streaming bandwidth remained out of individual reach.[10]There was also the impression that YouTube was too “risky” because of its increased visibility and YouTube’s ongoing efforts to limit the type of audio and video content being uploaded. In fact, between 2002 (when the vidding LJ community was created) and 2005, only 12 videos were posted with YouTube links – the bulk by one live action vidder aj2k. When YouTube was mentioned, it was often to complain about video or clip theft.

One fan posted:
"Has anyone else had their own videos uploaded to Youtube.com, Myspace.com, or Livedigital.com? People are starting to upload my videos at these sites without asking permission or crediting me for my work…. What should I do? Sometimes people credit me, but most of the time they do not. These free sites make it easy for people to upload any videos they want.” [11]
Another fan posted:
“A person on youtube.com has just buttfucked one of my vids. They never gave me credit in the vid credits...as a matter of fact they said the video was by them in the credits...on the page they do mention my name Lycanthropy but never mention my full name… Please friends...I have always appretiated [sic] the support you give me in my vid making...help me here and make this person wish they never copied my work. Thank you!”[12]
Vidders also posted warnings about how YouTube would claim ownership of all your content:
“The latest attempt to rebrand the web, "Web 2.0" has been evangelized as a platform for sharing - but it's increasingly looking like a platform tilted steeply in one direction.

Millions may be about to discover what singer Billy Bragg found out recently, and that "community" hosting web sites can do as they please with creative material you submit.

In its Terms & Conditions, the wildly popular video sharing site YouTube emphasizes that "you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions".” [13]

A vidder warned others:

“1) Don't post at YouTube...

2) Don't post in the open:

In case you haven't been following the news for the past few years, the RIAA will be more than happy to come after you for doing that. While the tv show and movie bigwigs haven't gone after vids much (arguments can be made for fair use re: clips vs. episodes/full-length films), the music industry is BAT-SHIT INSANE about musical artists' tracks being posted anywhere they can be listened to/downloaded for free (and yes, btw, you can download off YouTube if you know how). It doesn't matter how the song is posted; you've shared their material for free and they are completely mental about it. Ask the people who run the AMV, who had to take down hundreds (I believe) of vids after hearing from various recording artists' labels. Ask people who have been sued[14] (not just issued C&D letters, but sued)[15] and had to pay for downloading music.”

They then suggested that self-hosting with password protection was the "last best hope" for the vidding community.”[16]

In August 2006, fan vidders gathered at Vividcon, an annual vidding convention in Chicago. While the topics of streaming fanvids and the increased risks of exposure and visibility were not among the panel discussions, the topics were something that the Vividcon vidders were very much aware of.

In July 2006, someone had uploaded Killa and TJonesy’s Knights of the Round Table, a Star Trek/Monty Python vid, to YouTube without their permission and it was featured on metafilter, a well-known blog. This caused some consternation and debate among the LJ vidding community. [17]

In August 2006, one vidder asked:

“I'm wondering what the general opinion is of putting your vids on sites like You Tube or Put File. I got into vidding earlier this year, so I'm still new and learning. When I first discovered fan vids last year (hello high speed!), it seemed like an underground society of sorts. And I can see why that would be appealing considering legal issues and whatnot. So what do you vidders think about putting your vids on streaming sites like You Tube? I have yet to put any vids there because it feels a little too out there, but then again, I would like to broaden my audience for feedback.

Thoughts?

Edit: I just now noticed the post right below re: LucasFilms and You Tube. This is the kind of thing that inspired me to ask. Can posting vids on places like You Tube be harmful to the hobby? How do you go about sharing your hobby without basically waving around a flag for the respective copyright holders to hit you with a C&D order?”[18]

Responses varied from the negative:

“While YouTube does seem to be popular and offer a good audience, the cons of YouTube far outweigh the pros. For one, your video is streamed which usually makes it very pixellated. Also, there's the whole copyright thing of the site, essentially, owning your work (there was a post made about it in this comm; check the calendar... might've been in June). Plus, in my experience, the people on YouTube are generally thieves. Many vidders have had their work stolen, myself included, and put up by users who claim it as their own.”[19]

To the cautious:

“It depends on how much you want to stay under the radar. If you put your vids on YouTube, they will stay there longer if you don't mention the song name or artist and that makes it harder for the record companies to find and remove them over use of the song. If you don't mention the fandom name it makes it harder for the TV companies to find them and remove them. You KNOW that the RIAA and MPAA/TV people are regularly on YouTube looking for things to delete. So putting vids there is definitely riskier than putting them in your own webspace.

However, that makes it hard for viewers to find them as well :) Although - the majority of the general population doesn't understand the nuances of copyright, so exposing yourself to a wider audience means increased chance of exposing yourself to people who are careless about what they say and will bring you unwanted attention in the form of C&D letters.

Best bet, if you want to stay under the radar: password-protected zip files on your own webspace, also carefully labelled (i.e. avoid file names like IllegalMaterial.zip or CopyrightViolationFile.rar) so that your ISP doesn't notice and quickly take them down. Don't talk too much about them in public places or areas where The Powers That Be or their lawyers are known to frequent.

If your vids are good, word of mouth will bring viewers!”[20]

To the realistic:

“The cons of YouTube have already been pointed out except for one. If your video has any kind of timing it will suffer because YouTube’s conversion process throws the video and audio out of sync by a half second. Some may not notice but it irritates the hell out of me lol. I actually processed all of my videos strictly for YouTube so they would be in sync once they were uploaded.

The pros to YouTube is you do tend to get a lot of feedback on videos (that's been my experience anyway) and you can also link your site (if you have one) in the summary section of the video so visitors can go to your site to download the high quality version.

Another advantage of YouTube is they provide code so people can embed videos into their Myspace and Xanga pages. People used to try embedding my high quality files into their Myspace pages but since I put links to YouTube on my site this annoyance has been cut drastically.”[21]

A few posts did garner some positive feedback for YouTube

“…personally i love youtube, its easy and it allows people to watch your videos without downloading them. this way, they cant steal your video or your clips. the only thing you have to do with youtube, is wait for the video to load. it doesnt take long to load, depending on how long your video is. but once it loads, it plays fine and its cool to use. plus its free, and it stays on there forever.” [22]

But on the whole this was a common exchange between vidders:

“There's something about youtube that just doesn't sit well with me."
“So is it just YouTube thats disliked, or the whole idea of streaming video sites, like putfile as well?"
“No, to be honest it's the whole streaming thing that puts me off."[23]

Still, the LJ vidding community was slowly becoming aware that the rest of the world was, in turn, slowly becoming aware of their activities. In Feb 2006, the Toronto Star published an article about slash video “mashups” titled “The Brokeback Effect” and linked to several fanvids.[24]

Also in February 2006, long-time acafan Henry Jenkins wrote an essay on “To Watch A Fanvid[25]

2006: Fan Vid Streaming Peeks Out From Behind the Curtain

In November 2006, Henry Jenkins reached out to Laura Shapiro, a media fandom vidder to see if there was interest in representing fan vidding at an upcoming DIY (Do-It-Yourself) media festival. This festival was:
“....to be held in Fall 2007, will provide a space to showcase existing experiments in viral, amateur, and P2P video, as well as build new alliances to shape the future of digital video.

Henry Jenkins has asked me to locate a vidder who might be willing, on short notice, to attend an event planning meeting in LA the weekend of December 1-3 as a representative of live action vidding.

I'm posting this because I want to try and determine whether folks think this is a good thing for the community, whether you think I'm a good person to represent live action vidding, and whether there's anybody else who might want to do it instead of/in addition to me.

So, here are some discussion points:

1. Do you think that appearing at this planning meeting (not talking about the Festival itself) increases the legal exposure of vidding to the detriment of our community? 2. Do you think that appearing at this planning meeting (again, not the Festival) harms our vidding community in any other way? 3. Do you think that having live action vidding represented at the Festival increases the legal exposure of vidding to the deteriment of our community, or harms our community in other ways? 4. Do you think that I would be a good person to represent live action vidding at this planning meeting?

5. Would you be interested in attending the planning meeting yourself?”[26]

The response was positive and Laura Shapiro reported on the initial meeting here on December 2, 2006[27] and summarized her thoughts about the event on Dec 4:[28]

• Every creator I met represents a community that is more out than we are. It's not that their work doesn't also involve IP issues, it's just that they are not afraid. Or, they do not let their fear prevent them from showing their work to the world. In some cases, they have more significant things to be afraid of than lawsuits: they have had their servers seized by governments, could be put on terrorist watch lists, and risk prison and even death for what they do. It really put our concerns into perspective. • These communities all want broader exposure, for a wide variety of reasons ranging from personal gain to education and world-changing. Every creator I spoke to encouraged me to tell the community that we should get out there and show the world our stuff. They were not in any way dismissive of it as fluffy, either; the political videomakers I spoke to said that what we do is subversive and potentially world-changing, that slash is radical, that the fact that we are mostly women is hugely important, and that the world should know.

• None of the other creators seemed to feel a need to strive for legitimacy: they all seemed to feel perfectly legitimate already; possibly underground in the sense of being anti-corporate and sort of punk rock, but not underground in the sense of frightened, defensive, or ashamed. This is really different from the attitude of many vidders I've spoken with/who have left comments in this discussion: that if vidding is known at all, it is viewed as trivial, illegitimate, weird.

This led her to post her meta essay about Vidding and Visibility: You Can’t Stop The Signal:[29]

“ Over the last several years, it's become increasingly common for vidders to complain of having lost control over the distribution of their work. People's vids get "sampled" by other vidders, they get put up on YouTube, they wind up on blogs and in other public spaces. At the same time, more and more vidders and other video remixers have been going more and more public, fearlessly putting their own work out there, even working collaboratively with mainstream media creators and tech companies.

Further, there has been frustration among more academically-minded fans about the fact that our 30-year history and traditions are not widely known, and that other, male-dominated communities are taking credit for having "invented" this art form and being enshrined in various publications for their creative efforts and participatory cultures, even as our contributions are ignored or even mocked.

Tensions are increasing. The corner of the fannish vidding community where I sit has been grappling with some of the most fundamental concerns of media fandom: the need for safe spaces, the need to avoid legal reprisals, the need for pleasure, and the need for respect.

So we have a basic problem here: we simultaneously lambaste the people (both inside and outside of fandom) who are ignorant of our culture and its origins, and scramble to keep ourselves below the radar. How can we "keep it secret, keep it safe" and then expect to be known and respected for our work?

In the past week, I've had the opportunity to speak with vidders, vid fans, academics, and creators of other sorts of derivative art. I've been trying to get to the bottom of historical fannish concerns and current vidders' concerns, and to try to understand the evolving climate in which we are at work and at play. …. It's up to us.

In considering these pros and cons, I want to be very clear not to conflate the idea of a greater public visibility of vidding as a whole with the greater public visibility of any individual fan. If vidding itself is more widely understood and recognized, that doesn't mean that any individual vidder must expose herself. She can continue to use a pseud, continue to password-protect her work, can even take her vids offline if she chooses. It will always be possible for any individual to be "in the closet" to her family/friends/work if she chooses. Giving vids a public face simply means that others she encounters would be more likely to know what vidding is, and potentially more likely to view it positively.

We can to some degree control whether we as individuals are vidding in public. We probably can't control whether vidding as a whole goes public -- it's going, going, gone. Can we control the spin? Can we get something out of it? Can we benefit ourselves and our communities by embracing, rather than fighting, this new visibility?

What do we want? Do we just want to be left alone to have our fun, without threat of legal interference or invasions of the ignorant? Or do we want credit for our work? Do we want to be recognized, to become part of the historical archive? Do we want professional editing or filmmaking careers? Do we want to be able to influence the creative direction of the shows we watch? Do we want to be thought of as sane, creative, and valuable?

We can't stop the signal, but we do have choices to make.” [30]

2006: Enter imeem

Around the same time, live action vidder aj2k began posting about imeem, a new streaming site where he was hosting his vids, one that had better playback and less visibility than Youtube.[31] On Dec 2, 2006, astolat, an influential LJ vidder referenced Laura Shapiro’s post about increasing vidding's visibility and announced she had opened up an imeem account and had posted her first vids.

“For various reasons, I've been a) getting more convinced we don't need to be as paranoid as we are, and b) that streaming video is a really great way to share. aj2k recently posted here about a service called imeem.com which is basically youtube with better quality video (and the video stays in sync, even if it does stutter now and again).

Anyway -- I tried it for a bit, and I've been sold. I've gone ahead and put all my vids on there:

http://astolat.imeem.com/

and I hope to encourage more of you vidders out there to do the same. I'd love it if we started using imeem as our own AMV.org -- I mean, even if we still will want to provide high-quality downloadable versions of the vids, this could be a perfect central clearinghouse and a network for us to connect through.” I'm not entirely throwing caution to the winds, in that I've been careful to name my files in ways that a fan can look at them and figure out the fandom/song, but someone doing a random search for either source wouldn't find it.

Also, I'm planning on using the tag "vidding" on my vids -- which, if we all use it, could make it easy for us to find one another without showing up on random searches.” [32]

That same day, Morgan Dawn, a VCR vidder who had transitioned to digital vidding, tested out imeem and posted that she was pleased with the smoothness of the playback. She then wrote a guide designed to ease the way for fan vidders who were interested in posting their vids to imeem. The guide “Imeem Vidding 101” focused on technical aspects (how to upload vids), organizational (how to tag fan vids so others can find them) and cautionary notes about the role imeem might play in this next phase of vidding.[33] She also created a vidding forum on iMeem and proposed a fandom specific tagging system to help fans find teach others vids.

an example of the complex fandom tagging system fans had to create to find fanvids on imeem. Click to see larger version
“… I would like to see fan vids becoming more mainstream. Both as a vidder who wants more recognition, more viewership and the ability to impact (in a small way) the hearts and minds of popular culture. As a consumer, I want more to see, I want it to be easier to see (streaming) and the ability to see what I want, when I want and at no cost. Balanced against this is my understandable caution/fear/distaste of becoming entangled with a media and music industry that, as one commentator explains: "So you need to understand that [the music industry] people are really and truly crazy. They imagine that their industry is not, as you might have thought previously, merely a conduit for a specific type of product. Rather, they believe that their industry is the avatar of music itself, and flush with this knowledge they gesture from their litter, seeking tribute."

Which leads me to iMeem - a small video music sharing service that like YouTube, allows people to upload content and then stream it. It is better than YouTube in that the quality of the files are better - which is why (I suspect) many vidders are testing out the service.

But keep in mind:

1. Our fannish needs are not the same as iMeem 's goals. Their website has many technical limitations (some of which we’re exploring over here).

2. iMeem is (to me) an experiment. Can imeem handle the disk space/ server load? Do we fit into their business model? Will they want to continue hosting such large video files?

3. Also on the experiment front - will we face greater exposure as individuals on iMeem vs. some other site? I know (personally) several vidders who have been asked (by the media owners) to remove their vids from YouTube. Whether that happens on imeem is anyone’s guess.

But even if fandom vidding and iMeem turns out not to be a good fit - I think that it is a worthwhile attempt to branch out and stretch our wings to try new methods of distributing our vids and reaching new fans. And even if fandom vidding hits the ground - well, we all know that it takes most birds a few tries to make it aloft.

How far each of us is willing/able to venture out of our nest is up to each of us individually. More discussion of the pros and cons (and don't doubt for a minute that there are many cons to this question as it applies to our vidding community) is here: http://community.livejournal.com/vidding/893694.html [34]
She then, somewhat wryly concluded:
“And while I find this discussion fascinating and engaging and important, I think we truly are very small pond players about to splish-splash into the big sea. All our wants/needs/and desires will mean nothing against the currents. But who knows, if we paddle hard enough, we might actually find ourselves someplace warm and inviting."[35]

Not everyone was on board. Some felt they were being maneuvered by peer pressure into areas where they were not comfortable:

"...as fans we are always very lemming-like, and sometimes I wish that we weren't. Some things I've taken a long time to get on the bandwagon with, but lately I've been jumping up a lot, and I'm not always sure why other than that I don't want my friends to leave me behind.

And I'm not sure that's a good justification for this. I still believe, no matter how much people want to make us out and proud, that fan vidders in live action are playing a game of chicken here. For some, maybe a C&D letter or demand for reparations, or losing your web space, or getting hit with a lot of threatening TOS violations, isn't scary. But it is to me. And this "the boys do it so why don't we wonderful women" thing kind of gets my goat, too -- it sets up something I saw a lot of before VVC this year, [36]a kind of you're either in the closet hiding like a girl or you're a real adult and putting your vids out where you could get slapped legally.

See, I don't think it comes down to that, and I hate the conversation becoming about Brave, Liberated Female Vidders vs. lame, pathetic, closeted losers or something, and this concerns me a lot. I don't think we're doing anyone any favors when we present it like that, and even if the intention isn't bad, the practice is -- I've seen it discussed this way a lot, and it makes me... cranky. And I don't believe competing with the vidboys (whether it's machinima or AMV or what have you) makes us any better, either. If people want to get things more out there, mainstream them more, that's certainy their choice. But I dislike intensely that increasingly, the choice is being delivered as a "if you mainstream your vids, you're cool; if you don't, you're lame and a coward." I would hate to see this belief take over my corner of vidding fandom.”[37]

And

Some people actually feel insulted at the concept of staying under the radar and equate "I'm out and proud, get used to it" in entirely the wrong context. It's not about shame, it's about not pissing in the playground so that it doesn't get roped off for sterilization.”

Ugh, this is SO NOT about being in the slash closet. There's a total difference between being *ashamed* of your work and not wanting to get sued for it, or your site shut down because *someone* stuck your vid in a lawyer's face.

And this is not some fake made-up boogeyman -- media corporations *have* gotten into it with YouTube about the legality of hosting clips there. Hell, I read something on boingboing.net the other week about the RIAA wanting YouTube to stop hosting clips of *teenagers lipsyncing or doing silly dances to copyrighted songs*. ^_^” [38]

They also felt that online streaming offered an interior viewing experience:

”And so I'm not sure what we gain with imeem. I feel as if we're taking a huge step backward -- we've gone to a lot of trouble to find and use new codecs that will allow us to present our vids in lovely big sizes, with flawless compressions, etc. And now we're moving far backward by streaming them in a small window with herky jerky quality that can't handle fast cuts and lots of effects. I'm not impressed with it visually, and since I have only a regular DSL line, I have to stop the file every single time I click on anything -- to comment, to add to a playlist, to view comments, or it just stutters and barfs. To view a vid, I have to just wait for it to load, and I'm not sure I see how that's a value over DLing--takes the same amount of time and is just as much a blind date as before.

I find the interface incredibly confusing. It shows up so differently in FF for my mac, Safari on my Mac, and IE6 on my Windows laptop that it's like looking at different services. Half the time I have no real idea what I'm doing, and I can't stop the damn vid from playing every time I have to click through. I did like the fact that they notified me when my test vid loaded.

I don't know if this is what people are heading to, though. We're going back to small jittery vids, and let's face it, the kinds of people who watch streaming vids are never going to go DL your better quality vid at your site. So then, do we all do away with the expense of putting our vids up on a server, and just use this, till such time as Universal or Fox finds us and we get booted? I don't know. I'm just not seeing the value for people who are concerned about quality, etc.”[39]

And

”To me streaming sites are (excuse my language) a huge cock-tease (even if im lacking in equiptment), I feel like its just like going "haha i have this video here but im only going to show you this degraded version... cause the 'real file' is mine and only mine!!!" - you know what if i want to put the video on my ipod? i cant because its on the streaming site, and most of them are such low quality that if i even did that whole "saving from the streaming site" deal... it would probably only be worse after i converted it..” [40]

And

”Streaming delenda est. The quality is a secondary issue, the majority of my contempt being reserved for the people who try to break the web and make it impossible to frickin' download and keep things. For a while it turned into an arms race, then I decided I don't care how good someone's content might be; if they don't want to let me download it, I'm not gonna jump through their hoops.” [41]

They were not alone in expressing her doubts about online streaming: 4 months after the LJ vidding community began using imeem, one puzzled vidder wrote:

"I've been reading vidding meta all night and still haven't come any closer to understanding the exodus to streaming sites like You Tube and Imeem. I've read "Can't Stop the Signal". I've read "The Next Generation?"[42]I've even read "You Tube not Safe"[43] but yet, no one has explained the major change from downloads to streaming. I feel like everyone got invited to an after work party and I just didn't get the memo.

I'm not trying to be snarky or sarcastic. I honestly don't understand. I wouldn't be wasting your time otherwise.

As a vid watcher I get it. You can watch a vid and if you don't like it, just click back and forget it. But from a vidder perspective, I'm baffled. Why spend hours upon hours upon hours of hard (though not back breaking) work to get the very best picture quality and a visually stunning piece of art, only to upload it so that everyone has to watch it in this tiny box? Or, with YT, enlarge it until it looks horrible….

…What also puzzles me is that posting to these streaming sites doesn't necessarily equal more feedback. Yes, yes, we vid for our own enjoyment but feedback is nice too.

So with very little effect on fb, lower visual quality, sometimes it is just a pain to watch....what is the allure to vidders? What am I missing?”[44]
And others struggled to understand just how to use this new streaming videos and how to incorporate it into a community that was traditionally visibility shy:
"I have a quick question to the vidders who put their material up on Imeem: Do you feel your material is now public and can be linked from anywhere?.....Thing is, that blog is pretty damn public, geared at industry folks and not just fans and acafans. So, my question to you: should there have been links to Imeem? Are we just ridiculously overcautious and overprotective and y'all are perfectly fine having those links in very public arenas? Do you, as a vidder who has her vids up on Imeem, feel that this is OK, that you're comfortable having those links to your vids "out there" (like, *really* out there :)? I feel like the rules are constantly changing, and at the moment I'm not sure any more how much or how little publicity/exposure is OK. Help, please :)"[45]

Still many vidders did test out the new platform and were pleased. As one vidder explained, streaming offered more options at little to no cost to the vidder:

”I'm sure someone else will say this too but one does not negate the other. You can have both streaming and downloads and a lot of people (myself included) do.

Those who only use streaming services generally do so because they have no hosting capability. The beauty of video sharing sites like YouTube and iMeem are that they don't cost the vidder anything and they are conveniently disposable for a new vidder.

That is the main reason, in practical terms.

However, what you are asking is this: If all options are equally available, what are the pros of using a streaming service?

For me, using a streaming service opens up my videos to an entirely new audience. Sure, a lot of the comments on my iMeem videos are from vidders but there are comments from iMeem users who until know nothing of vidding or fandom but know that they enjoyed the video.

I think that's key to understanding the appeal of a streaming service. There are potential fans outside fandom and the only place to find them is on common ground so either you wait for some external blogger or journo to find your video (which promptly kills your server with a bandwidth spike) or you include a streaming service as a way for people outside to see your work.

It's equal opportunity vid distribution :)"[46]

And, because imeem was a relative young company, the influx of vidders did not go unnoticed. In fact, within days of astolat’s announcement, the developers at imeem helped fans troubleshoot video embedding problems on Livejournal.[47]

In fact, within days of the imeem vidding forum being created, one of the new fan members received an invitation to enter a vidding contest.
”After less than two weeks of vidder community presence -- the Vidding Meem was created three days ago -- vidding has caught attention outside of fandom and vidders (and presumed vidders*) have been issued non-fannish contest invitations.” [48]
sample user page. The imeem layout was simple and easily accessed. To the right is where the user could create their own custom playlists

2007-2009: A Rocky Relationship

In her 2007 post-Vividcon convention report, Laura Shapiro noted:
"People seem to be getting more comfortable with the idea of working together as a community to present a public face of vidding to the world. That said, it was obvious to me that some people prefer to keep quiet even in fannish space, let alone in the wider world. And we have to keep reminding ourselves that we few members of VVC, we few vidders in this little corner of LJ, are not all of vidding fandom -- just a small fraction of it. We can't speak for everyone." [49]

But the vidding-imeem relationship was not without its problems – even though it offered better streaming quality, its search engine was poor.[50] Finding fanvids amongst the sea of professional music videos and porn was difficult and fans had to create their own tagging system.

Legal difficulties soon distracted the company. In May 2007, imeem was sued by Warner Group [51] In August 2007, they instituted an audio fingerprinting service that would allow only users to hear the music they uploaded if it matched a licensed song. [52] In Jan 2008, an imeem video that had been featured in the November 2007 issue of the New York Magazine[53] was removed after an unknown imeem user complained that the vid violated imeem’s terms of service. The video, Vogue by luminosity was set to a song by Madonna using footage from the gaudy historical epic “300”. The video had, gathered over 15,000 views within a few days of being uploaded imeem.[54]. Imeem support did not explain which of their many terms of service were involved, despite Lum’s requests, leaving the vidding community uncertain as to how to avoid takedown notices in the future. In response to the takedown, vidders began re-uploading Vogue to other platforms such as Stage6, YouTube and Collegehumour.com. Some of these links still work 6 years later, long after imeem went out of business.[55]

During 2007 and 2008, imeem faced competition from other streaming services. Companies like divX (Stage 6)[56] and Veoh [57] jumped into the streaming video business.

Still, vidders continued to use imeem, even in the face of takedowns – in this imeem was no better or worse than other streaming services. [58] And there were other features that fans found useful. One of the more popular imeem features was the ability to create a vid “playlist” where you could select vids from various vidders and offer them us as single stream of recommendations.

2009: imeem Closes

By 2009, imeem began experiencing cash flow problems. [59] By June 25, 2009, imeem announced it was deleting all user uploaded photos and videos, giving users only a few days notice tor rescue their personal files. [60]

Even though imeem was closing, two years after first venturing into fan vid streaming, the practice was there to stay. Fans posted about alternative streaming sites and the suggestion of self-hosting was once again mentioned. [61] Others reminded video editors that diversity was perhaps their best option in the ongoing battle against take-downs:
”Mirroring videos is the most powerful immediate action that video makers can take to protect their rights as authors. The gradual disappearance of videos from YouTube over the last 18 months progressed largely undetected because of an emergent practice distributed among thousands of commnity members. A few common searches reveals that the most popular videos are frequently ripped and re-upped under a variety of accounts. Like bees unwittingly pollinating a field of wild flowers, these re-ups are often executed by spammers looking for more hits on their other videos. The preservation of threatened videos is merely a by-product of their unscrupulous pursuit of views”[62]

On June 29, 2009, one day before imeem went “dark” for fan vidding, Morgan Dawn posted a snarky farewell:

Morgan Dawn's snarky farewell to imeem when it began deleting user content in 2009.
”iBeem - you left your lights on and your battery is now dead.... “[63]

Still, in spite of the snark, the fact remained that imeem did help entice a segment of the live action vidding community into online streaming. In turn, imeem, along with other events taking place in 2007-2009 time period, raised the awareness of the vidding community that they were part of a larger ongoing struggle that pitted corporate interests against fair use and transformative works. In the summer of 2006, shortly before the imeem migration began, Laura Shapiro pointed out:

”I think this issue is only tangentially related to fandom. This is part of the larger change that new technology has hastened (but, I think, not created): increasingly, people have access to more and more kinds of information, not just as consumers but as creators and distributors. Along with our new capabilities come new relationships to the information and new feelings about our responsibilities, to the information and to one another. All of which sounds very bombastic, I'm aware. My main point is that YouTube is not essentially a fannish phenomenon. Neither is piracy. Neither is plagiarism. Neither are self-policing communities. This is stuff that is happening to the digital world at large, and fandom is one piece of flotsam rocketing along in the deluge of new information, and new ways of relating to and thinking about it. “[64]

Perhaps then, it was no coincidence that one month after the migration to imeem, Morgan Dawn and par avion began offering a “Meta Vidding” newsletter at veni-vidi-vids that focused, among other things developments in copyright law and the technological tools used to combat fair use and transformative works. [65]

By May 2007, Astolat suggested that fans needed An Archive of Our Own, and the OTW was founded. Since then, many of the streaming websites used by fan vidders have come and gone. For example, in 2010, when Ning announced a change in its business model, Bam Video Vault, one of the alternative sites vidders had migrated to, decided to shut down. In 2014, Blip.tv pulled all fan content from its servers and Viddler ended free video hosting.

The Move to imeem: Further Reading

References

  1. dalton, Simplifying imeem, imeem blog. June 25, 2009. (accessed 31 December 2009)
  2. Frederic Lardinois. imeem Wants to Simplify Its Service - Deletes All User-Generated Photos and Videos. on ReadWriteWeb, June 26, 2009. (accessed 2 April 2010)
  3. Morgan Dawn, Copyright Policies: Blip.TV, BAM Video Vault & Viddler (Updated 7/2/2009), posted to the Vidding LiveJournal community, 27 June 2009. (accessed 2 April 2010)
  4. vchrusch, Looks like Imeem is probably no longer vidder friendly, posted to the Vidding LiveJournal community, 25 June 2009. (accessed 2 April 2010);WayBack machine link.
  5. Ryan Nakashima, MySpace buys imeem music site for under $1 mln, Associated Press, Dec 8, 2009
  6. par_avion, Out with a whimper, 23 March 2010. (accessed 2 April 2010)
  7. comment in the Streaming vs Downloads post at the vidding LJ community dated April 10, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  8. Even after imeem had come and gone, some vidders still felt that online streaming could not measure up to their standards: "I still haven't uploaded any vids to BAM. Their playback is 15 fps, and I can't see the point of spending the time uploading vids with fast cutting when I know it can't handle them. I haven't explored any other options, either, because I keep hearing about vidders being TOS'd and having vids taken down. laurashapiro suggested we start streaming on our own websites, but that entails technical wizardry to turn them into flash, then hoping your host doesn't dump you if you exceed your alotted bandwidth. So... %#@$*&!" comment in the Still bitter dated July 28, 2009; WayBack Machine link.
  9. One example of a digital/online vidding community was Reverie.
  10. comment in the Streaming vs Downloads post at the vidding LJ community dated April 10, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  11. Video Theft - Youtube, Myspace, Livedigital post to the vidding community dated 5-13-2006; WayBack Machine link.
  12. I need everyone in the Groups help!!! post to the vidding community dated 6-9-2006; WayBack Machine.
  13. Article on creative ownership of video post to the vidding LJ community on 6-13-2006; WayBack Machine link.
  14. Local Teen Singing The Blues After Being Sued For Downloading Music Published: Nov 17, 2003; WayBack Machine link.
  15. 12-year-old settles music swap lawsuit dated February 18, 2004; WayBack machine link.
  16. 1: YouTube. 2: The RIAA. 3: Our Last Best Hope post to the vidding LJ community dated 6-14-2006; WayBack machine link.
  17. More here dated July 19, 2006; Wayback Machine link.
  18. You Tube Opinions post to the vidding LJ community on Augsut 2, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  19. comment in the You Tube Opinions post to the vidding LJ community on Augsut 2, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  20. comment in the You Tube Opinions post to the vidding LJ community on Augsut 2, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  21. comment in the You Tube Opinions post to the vidding LJ community on Augsut 2, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  22. comment in an untitled post to the vidding LJ community dated 3-13-2006; WayBack Machine link.
  23. comment in an untitled post to the vidding LJ community dated 3-13-2006; WayBack Machine link.
  24. Toronto Star Discusses Fan Vids (With Focus On Slash) post the the vidding LJ community dated Feb 18, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  25. Henry was not the first acafan to write about fan vidding; Camille Bacon-Smith also discussed it in her 1992 book Enterprising Women. Henry himself discussed fan vidding in his book Textual Poachers also published in 1992.
  26. Representing vidding at a DIY Media event: please read post dated November 22, 2006; WayBack link..
  27. WayBack Machine link.
  28. WayBack Machine link.
  29. Wayback machine link.
  30. See also Laura Shapiro’s comments months earlier in July 2006 when someone uploaded a fanvid without permission to YouTube. It looks like someone put the Star Trek/Monty Python vid up on Youtube dated July 19, 2006; Wayback Machine link.
  31. For streaming videos... post to the Vidding LJ community dated Nov 25, 2006; WayBack Machine.
  32. vidding and imeem.com and Promoting vidding on imeem dated Dec 2, 2006; WayBack Machine link and WayBack Machine link.
  33. WayBack Machine link.
  34. Deep Thoughts On Vidding And Going Mainstream dated Dec 5, 2006; WayBack machine link. Years later, Morgan Dawn commented: “The intersection between Laura, Astolat and aj2k was a matter of disparate people being in the right place at the right time. Interest in increasing the visibility of media fandom vidding with the new and improved technological platforms had been building for a while. It was one of the rare moments where you knew you were at a historical tipping point and I went into the iMeem situation with the understanding that my participation might not make a visible difference but someone (like me) would have to supply the necessary elbow grease. Still, I was surprised to see how quickly and enthusiastically our vidding community leapt into online streaming. Looking back there was nothing coordinated about the effort – Laura was invited to a DIY Vidding conference, aj2k talked about this cool new platform, astolat was the BNV who leapt into the pool and I was the cartographer frantically erasing the “Here Be Dragons” portions of the vidding map and drawing arrows on the new map to help guide the community into the uncharted waters." Source: Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed April 28, 2014, quoted with permission.
  35. Morgan Dawn's comment in VIDDING META: You Can't Stop The Signal dated Dec 6, 2006; WayBack Machine link.
  36. It looks like someone put the Star Trek/Monty Python vid up on Youtube dated July 19, 2006; Wayback Machine link.
  37. Just call me crank dated Dec 5, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  38. It looks like someone put the Star Trek/Monty Python vid up on Youtube dated July 19, 2006; Wayback Machine link.
  39. Just call me crank dated Dec 5, 2006; WayBack machine link.
  40. comment in the Streaming vs Downloads post to the vidding LJ community dated April 10, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  41. comment in the Streaming vs Downloads post to the vidding LJ community dated April 10, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  42. link to post dated Feb 1, 2007; [http://web.archive.org/web/20140430183856/http://vidding.livejournal.com/961046.html WayBack machine.
  43. Link to post dated March 22, 2007 WayBack machine link. The Kawoosh! Forum discussion, also dated March 2007, can be found here.
  44. Streaming vs Downloads post to the vidding LJ community dated April 10, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  45. Linking to Imeem? post in the vidding LJ community dated June 8, 2007;WayBack Machine link.
  46. comment in the Streaming vs Downloads post to the vidding LJ community dated April 10, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  47. Dec 4, 2006 Support post to the iMeem Vidding forum: “Thank you for reporting this issue. We are currently looking into this problem. It looks like Live Journal has blocked all imeem content. We understand your concerns and hope this to only be a temporary issue." (iMeem Suuport post in the Vidding Meem forum now offline)
  48. VIDDING META: iMeem and vidder visibility post in the vidding LJ community on Dec 6, 2006; WayBack Machine link.
  49. Vividcon 2007: Assorted thinky stuff dated August 20, 2007.
  50. iMeem Search Tips post in the vidding LJ community on 12-30-2006; WayBack machine link.
  51. Alert: Imeem Targeted In Warner Brothers Suit post to the vidding LJ community dated May 16, 2007; Wayback machine link.
  52. Vidding: iMeem Vid Removal post to the vidding LJ community dated August 2, 2006; WayBack Machine link. It should be noted that Youtube was also experimenting with audio and video verification technology. Youtube: How Is Their 'New' Dispute Process Working? post to the vidding LJ community on Feb 24, 2009; WayBack Machine post.
  53. The Twenty (Intentionally) Funniest Web Videos of 2007.
  54. Email from luminosity to Morgan Dawn on April 26, 2014, quoted with permission.
  55. Viral Vidding: A Web 2.0, Consumer-Generated, Social Experiment post at luminosity's journal on Jan 23, 2008; WayBack Machine link.
  56. An evolution in streaming video post to the vidding LJ community dated June 7, 2007 and Stage6 (DivX Streaming) post to the vidding LJ community dated November 7, 2007; WayBack Machine link; WayBack Machine link.
  57. Veoh: "For YouTube Graduates" post to the LJ vidding community dated Feb 13, 2007; WayBack Machine link.
  58. "I had a vid pulled back in November due to a complaint filed by another user" (imeem) dated March 6, 2009 and LFL HAS SMACKED DOWN YOUTUBE VIDDERS (Youtube) dated August 1, 2006; WayBack Machine; WayBack Machine.
  59. iMeem May Be Struggling To Stay Afloat - Backup Your Work post to the vidding LJ community dated April 14, 2009; WayBack Machine.
  60. vchrusch, Looks like Imeem is probably no longer vidder friendly, posted to the Vidding LiveJournal community, 25 June 2009;WayBack machine link.
  61. Tutorial: Streaming from your personal webhost on LJ post to the vidding LJ community dated Nov 26, 2008; WayBack machine link.
  62. Copyright Policies: Blip.TV, BAM Video Vault & Viddler (Updated 7/2/2009) post to the vidding LJ community; WayBack Machine link.
  63. iBeem - you left your lights on and your battery is now dead.... post by Morgan Dawn dated June 29. 2009; WayBack machine link.
  64. It looks like someone put the Star Trek/Monty Python vid up on Youtube dated July 19, 2006; Wayback Machine link.
  65. The first Meta vidding newsletter was launched in Jan 2007; WayBack Machine.
  66. Wayback machine link.
  67. WayBack Machine link.
  68. reference link; Wayback Machine link.
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