Facebook accused of ‘lies and theft’ by YouTube star

05/08/2015

Facebook has been forced to defend its video practices after a YouTube star accused it of downloading his copyrighted material to use on the social network… and cutting him out of any ad revenue earned.

YouTube star Hank Green wrote a post on Monday titled "Theft, lies, and Facebook Video" that criticised Facebook's video offerings, particularly how they display YouTube videos on the site- using a practice know as ‘freebooting’.

Green said that Facebook counts video that autoplays for at least three seconds as a "view" and uses freebooting to make money- the act of downloading someone else's copyright-protected material, often from YouTube, and uploading it into Facebook's native video player.

In his essay, Green highlights in particular a recent report from the ad agency Ogilvy and Tubular Labs that found that 725 of the 1,000 most popular Facebook videos in the first quarter were re-uploads of content from other sources.

The most viewed such video racked up 72 million views, while the 725 re-uploaded videos combined hit a grand total of 17 billion views.

“It wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook was working on a solution now which they can roll out conveniently after having made their initial claims at being the biggest, most important thing in video,” Green added.

A Facebook spokeswoman clarified that intellectual property was a key issue for the business despite Green’s claim to the contrary.

“We take intellectual property rights very seriously,” she added. “This is not new to Facebook. We have a number of measures in place to address potential infringements on our service. For years we've used the Audible Magic system to help prevent unauthorised video content. We also have reporting tools in place to allow content owners to report potential copyright infringement, and upon receiving a valid notice we remove unauthorised content. We also suspend accounts of people with repeated IP violations when appropriate.”

Other YouTube stars have also criticised Facebook for the practive of freebooting in the past.

Facebook also sent Hank Green a response to his blog in which Matt Parkes of Facebook wrote:

“We have used the Audible Magic system for years to help prevent unauthorized video content on Facebook. We also provide reporting tools for content owners to report possible copyright infringement. As video continues to grow rapidly on Facebook, we’re actively exploring further solutions to help IP owners identify and manage potential infringing content, tailored for our unique platform and ecosystem. This is a significant technical challenge at our scale, but we have a team working on it and expect to have more to share later this summer. “We absolutely hear your concerns and deeply care about the experience for video creators on Facebook, as well as the experience for people and advertisers. We’re listening to feedback, and will continue to improve our publishing tools and user experiences.”

The criticism comes as Facebook takes on Google’s YouTube to become the dominant source for online video (and the subsequent ad dollars that come with it).

Facebook currently attracts around 4 billion videos every day while YouTube has said its videos get "billions" of daily views, but it has not updated that figure in several years.

However, it does claim that YouTube users spend 500 million hours every day watching video.

View Hank Green’s original blog post here


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