Facebook Signals That It Will Start Cracking Down On Video Piracy
Responding to criticism of rampant "freebooting," the social network says it's testing a new system to improve its video matching technology and create a stronger barrier against pirates.
Facebook’s meteoric growth in video — from afterthought to more than 4 billion daily views in less than a year — has come with some controversy.
There’s been grousing that a three-second glimpse of autoplay video in the News Feed isn’t enough time to register a significant view. More damningly, there have been accusations that much of Facebook’s video surge has been built by people stealing content and uploading it on Facebook, one study finding that pirated video accounted for more than 70 percent of Facebook’s 1,000 most popular videos.
As Recode noted today, George Strompolos, CEO of Fullscreen, one of the biggest YouTube video networks, tweeted in June that he was “getting very tired of seeing our videos ripped there with no way to monitor or monetize.” This month, prominent YouTube creator Hank Green called out the social network for “theft and lies” in regard to its video efforts, and a Facebook product manager responded that the company was working on the issue.
Today, Facebook made public some of that work, officially acknowledging that video piracy is an problem and announcing that it’s taking steps to improve its video matching technology.
“We’ve heard from some of our content partners that third parties too frequently misuse their content on Facebook,” the company wrote in a blog post. “For instance, publishers have told us that their videos are sometimes uploaded directly to Facebook without their permission. This practice has been called ‘freebooting,’ and it’s not fair to those who work hard to create amazing videos. We want creators to get credit for the videos that they own.”
Facebook is playing catch-up to YouTube, which uses a sophisticated Content ID system that enables video producers to claim their content and either have it automatically removed or stay up and take a share of the advertising revenue that is generated. Facebook doesn’t yet have a system for sharing revenue from video, although it plans to launch a pilot program to do that this fall.
Currently, Facebook uses a tool called Audible Magic that uses audio fingerprinting technology “to identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way onto the platform.” It also depends on creators to use reporting tools to alert Facebook when their videos are uploaded, but creators have complained that it’s difficult to find all instances of pirated videos in the current system and that often such videos stay up long enough to draw viral-level views.
The new system will be made available to a small subset of media companies, publishers and creators to test, enabling them to upload video they want to protect. Facebook has only identified three of the partners — Fullscreen, Jukin Media and ZEFR, a company that helps content owners track their videos on YouTube. Fullscreen CEO Strompolos, a former YouTube executive, told Recode that Facebook representatives have been helpful and receptive to advice from people experienced in the video industry and that he’s not surprised the company is just beginning to take the issue more seriously.
“I think Facebook is a product and engineering company,” Stompolos told Recode. “And I think companies like that tend to want to create the experience first and then figure out the rules later.”