Facebook will soon begin to beta-test a new content management technology with a small number of publishing partners, including Fullscreen, ZEFR and Jukin Media, to prevent the unauthorized redistribution of videos on the platform.
The company announced the deployment Thursday via a blog post that laid out additional measures as well aimed at so-called freebooting, which has been the subject of increasing criticism.
The company also said it will continue to use fingerprinting and content removal tools from Audible Magic, which it has been deploying for some time to automatically block the upload of infringing videos. But it is also working with Audible Magic to make it easier to fingerprint content and said that it is streamlining its take-down process.
The efforts got some cautionary praise from Facebook’s early partners. “We are collaborating closely with Facebook to provide feedback on their new video-matching technology. This is no small task, but it can be done, and we’re encouraged by Facebook’s early progress,” said Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos.
Strompolos had previously criticized Facebook for not doing enough to stem copyright infringement. “I now regularly see our videos with 50MM+ view counts that are stolen by individuals on FB… sometimes by other media cos,” he said in a tweet two months ago, adding that he was “surprised” that big media companies hadn’t sued Facebook over freebooting.
The new “video matching” technology, which Facebook has developed inhouse, allows participating publishers to upload their videos to a special rights-management tool to claim them as their own. Once a video is claimed, publishers will be notified through a special dashboard if and when another Facebook user uploads a copy of the same video.
Publishers will be able to see how many views each unauthorized upload has generated, and report these videos for removal — or decide to keep them up, if they’d prefer to see the video spread virally.
The new content tool is initially available to just a handful of publishers, which also include some unnamed media companies. Facebook eventually wants to make it more widely available, but hasn’t shared any timing on such an effort.
Facebook’s development of a dedicated rights-management solution mirrors the evolution of content protection on YouTube. The Google-owned video platform initially relied on third-party filtering from Audible Magic as well, but eventually developed a more full-featured set of tools called Content ID that allowed publishers to mark their content for removal.
A few years after its initial launch, YouTube expanded Content ID with an important second option: Publishers could opt to keep user-uploaded versions of their videos on the site, and monetize them through YouTube’s ad programs. Music rights holders, in particular, saw their revenue increase dramatically once they were able to monetize user-generated videos that used their songs, but multichannel networks and other YouTube publishers have long relied on monetization via Content ID as well.
Compared to YouTube, Facebook’s video business is still in its infancy. The social network does generate some 4 billion video views a day, but it only recently started to test monetization of videos via in-line autoplay ads on its platform.
The logical next step for Facebook will be to add monetization to its content management tool, allowing publishers to make those user-uploaded videos work for them as well. Facebook didn’t make any mention of such an option Thursday, but hinted at bigger plans to come in its blog post: “This is just the beginning. In the long-term, our goal is to provide a comprehensive video management system that fits the needs of our partners.”
Strompolos wasn’t alone in his criticism of Facebook. Well-known YouTuber Hank Green took to Medium earlier this month to complain that “Facebook’s algorithms encourage this theft.” Green went on to say that it was “inexcusable” for Facebook to not protect independent content producers from freebooting.