Facebook’s move to grant broader access to its copyright-flagging system to take down unauthorized video posted to the site is being praised by content creators and media companies — though many said there’s still work to be done.
On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it was letting publishing partners apply for access to Rights Manager, to help them combat the phenomenon known in the industry as “freebooting,” which refers to unauthorized copies of video being reposted on the social service. The company launched a limited beta test of the service last summer with partners including Fullscreen, ZEFR and Jukin Media.
“This is a critical step for Machinima and our vast talent network to make Facebook a more significant partner for monetization,” Machinima COO Stephen Semprevivo said. “Rights management has been a pain point across Facebook for the creator community.”
Others voiced support for Facebook’s expansion of the program, which is similar to YouTube’s Content ID system, first launched in 2007.
“I think this is an excellent step, and I’m glad that Facebook has put together a good tool and is starting down the path to protecting people’s work,” said Hank Green, who runs YouTube channel Vlogbrothers with his brother John.
Green has been a vocal critic of Facebook’s lack of attention to the problem. In a post last year, he cited data showing that 725 of the top 1,000 videos on Facebook in the first quarter of 2015, which accounted for 17 billion views, were freebooted. Green said he’s applied to be part of Facebook’s Rights Manager, but said it’s just the first step as Facebook determines who gains access to the tool and who doesn’t.
“I’m glad it’s here now, but it will take a lot of good work for creators to forget that a $300 billion company enthusiastically launched a video product a full year before they had a tool to protect independent creators from having their content stolen,” Green said.
Vevo, the music-video service that is one of YouTube’s biggest content partners, expressed support for Facebook’s anti-freebooting strategy. But the company said the problem is bigger than any single tool, because current takedown systems operating under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are not cutting it. “We still believe the industry still has much to do in ensuring that unauthorized content is taken down and stays down, as current methods are both inefficient and in most cases unsuccessful in how they deliver on this,” Vevo spokesman Jon Carvill said.
With Facebook Rights Manager, publishers can provide reference files for both individual videos as well as live video and TV feeds to find and block any unlicensed uploads or rebroadcasts.
Video consumption on Facebook has exploded, and it’s doubling down with a concerted drive behind Facebook Live to get more live video on the platform. That’s been a boon for publishers like Whistle Sports, said exec VP Brian Selander. But he said that while creators can easily rack up a few million views in a few hours, “Freebooting means it’s sometimes under other people’s names.” Facebook has “been clear to us that they understand the need for a strong content ID system, and the Rights Manager tool is a great next step.”
Jason Kirk, chief business officer at ZEFR, said that for content consumption and sharing to flourish on multiple platforms, copyright-detection solutions must be readily available so content owners can make decisions that let them manage their intellectual property effectively. “Clearly Facebook is taking this seriously, and we’re happy to help them do just that,” Kirk said.
Today, a key difference between the Facebook and YouTube copyright-detection systems is that YouTube’s Content ID lets rights-holders leave unauthorized video in place but claim ownership of the content to generate ad revenue, VideoNuze analyst Will Richmond wrote in a blog post.
As Facebook adds more features to Rights Manager, it will “become a more legitimate publishing environment for video, which will in turn mean more publishers will be inclined to use Facebook as a video platform partner,” Richmond said.