One of the biggest complaints of creators when it comes to Facebook’s video platform has been that copied and pirated versions of their content frequently garner lots of views on the platform without accruing any revenue for the original creator. Facebook has been slow to take these videos down, partly because it hasn’t had a great system in the past for identifying them (though that’s now starting to change), and as a result the damage has often been done by the time it fixes things. Facebook is now going to allow the original owners to claim the pirated videos and then receive the royalties from them, which should help assuage those concerns somewhat. But of course ideally Facebook would shut the infringing videos down in a timely fashion so that the original owner could receive the views in the first place, because this issue isn’t just about what for today are fairly minimal video ad revenues. It’s also about the original channel capturing the views and thereby growing its audience. Hopefully having the content identification technology in place will give creators the option to do that. I’m also guessing this won’t help with the live video copyright issue Facebook also has.
YouTube Cracks Down on Fake Channels by Setting 10,000-View Minimum Before Serving Ads – Variety (Apr 6, 2017)
As I’ve said essentially from the beginning of the advertiser boycotts of YouTube, one easy way for the company to resolve at least some of the issues would be to raise thresholds on the channels and videos that could carry ads, and it looks like YouTube is now taking baby steps in this direction, albeit in the apparent context of impersonation rather than other content issues. Channels will now have to earn 10,000 views of their videos before they can fully join the YouTube Partner Program and begin serving ads, which should help weed out some troublesome channels before they get to the point of monetization. As of right now, that should have only a tiny effect on the ability of creators in general to monetize their YouTube activity – 10,000 views generate such a minimal amount of ad revenue that this isn’t going to hurt anyone’s ability to make money. As long as the threshold stays at this low level, then, this might be a relatively painless way to introduce at least a low bar to monetization on YouTube.
I joked on Twitter earlier that this is basically Content ID for the physical world – Amazon is now allowing brands to register their intellectual property in physical goods, so that Amazon can more easily identify and remove from its listings any counterfeit goods. That’s important because the company has been increasingly criticized in recent months for selling knockoff items from counterfeiters without doing much about it, and in some cases those goods have even been dangerous (for example fake iPhone chargers and cables). This feels like a step in the right direction, but to draw another Google analogy, this is a bit like Google policing videos on YouTube – the raw scale here is impossible for human employees to monitor alone. In this case, Amazon needs customers and brands to flag counterfeit items, but at least this registry makes it easier to match those items to copyrighted originals and therefore to take them down more quickly.
Pirate Soccer Streams Thrive on Facebook – El Pais (Feb 21, 2017)
There have been a couple of stories recently about Facebook finding ways to detect and either crack down on or monetize pirated music on the platform, but this analysis from Spanish newspaper El Pais demonstrates that music is far from the only thing being pirated regularly on Facebook. It appears that there are massively popular streams – the article cites a recent game between Barcelona and Real Madrid where one stream alone had 700,000 viewers – which go largely unchecked on Facebook. The key to their success is that users follow Pages which post links to streams hosted by other entities – because the aggregators themselves never infringe on any copyright, they can build big audiences and merely direct them at whatever streams are available. As Facebook gets ever more serious about video on the platform, it’s going to have to get better at detecting infringing live streams in real time, especially if it wants to win the trust of traditional broadcasters.
via El Pais (in Spanish)
Billboard reported at the end of December that Facebook was working on a Content ID-like system for policing music rights infringement on the site, and this Bloomberg piece suggests more of the same. There are several challenges here. Firstly, most Facebook video is published privately, so it’s impossible for outsiders to truly gauge the scale of infringing content. Secondly, a lot of the music videos shared on Facebook are covers, not originals, making detection tough. And third, though Facebook wants to set itself up as a more attractive alternative to YouTube, with advertising as its business model it’s unlikely to pay out at a much higher rate, and in fact may detract from the progress being made by paid streaming services in compensating artists more adequately by creating yet another massive source of free music listening. As such, I’m not convinced that the labels should jump too quickly into bed with Facebook. And that’s tough for Facebook because it clearly wants to take share from YouTube, but music is a huge component of the latter’s popularity.
Facebook Developing Copyright ID System to Stem Music Rights Infringement | Billboard (Dec 31, 2016)
It’s been clear for some time that Facebook is setting itself up as a competitor to YouTube, and of course a big investment in video requires an investment in copyright policing too. Unlike YouTube, of course, much of the content shared on Facebook is private, which means it’s almost impossible to properly gauge the scale of infringing material. Instagram already does some of this for recorded music, but this article implies a lot of the infringing videos on Facebook are covers rather than the originals, which is quite a bit harder to detect.