The battle of the tech giants seems to harken back to the ill-advised 2004 “Alien vs. Predator” tagline: No matter who wins, we lose.
It’s not quite so dramatic as all that, but as Facebook continues to make its foray into video and music streaming, it aims to take over for the services that users had been sharing on the site anyway. And by breaking this up, it could cause problems for copyright owners.
For more than a decade, Youtube has been the dominant name of the Internet video game. Users turn to the site for everything from hair tutorials to music to video blogging. 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute by more than a billion users, and that number only continues to grow.
But Facebook’s arrival to the native (to the site) video scene presents the first real threat to Youtube’s empire. Facebook reports that users watch a reported 4 billion video streams per day, more than four times what they watched last year.
That number makes more sense once you realize that Facebook has been favoring video in its news feed algorithm. And if you upload a video to the site instead of just posting a link to a preexisting Youtube or Vimeo video it looks even nicer, making it just a smart marketing decision. But many are quickly learning that this strategy isn’t perfect, as Slate reports:
Two days after he published his tattoo video on YouTube, [Destin] Sandlin got a message from one of his subscribers who had seen it on Facebook. It turned out his video was a viral smash there, too. In fact, it was spreading even faster on Facebook than it was on YouTube, with more than 18 million views in the first two days alone.
The problem was that Sandlin had never posted it to Facebook, and the version of it that appeared in millions of users’ News Feeds overnight wasn’t his. Rather, a British lads’ magazine called Zoo had apparently downloaded (or “ripped”) his video from YouTube, edited it to strip out references to Sandlin and his SmarterEveryDay channel, and posted the edited version on its own page, using Facebook’s native video player. It was an instant sensation, garnering millions of views and a raft of new followers for Zoo’s page. Sandlin, who puts some of the revenue from his YouTube videos toward his kids’ college fund, got nothing.
And Sandlin isn’t alone. Slate writes that other Youtube stars get emails daily about spotted bootlegged, or “freebooted,” versions of their videos on Facebook. And given that Facebook is now setting itself up as Youtube’s rival, they’re probably not inclined to help out video links from other sites look prettier on their site, potentially curbing the problem for vloggers who make their living on virality.
Admittedly, Facebook is in the process of taking steps to fix the problem. The company is already reportedly using Audible Magic, an automated system that can detect copyrighted media and remove it from a user’s stream (Youtube has a similar system in place). And for now so long as they are taking action they are protected by the safe harbor rule of the DMCA. But as they continue to grow and grow their tools are having trouble keeping up with the violations, it seems the social media site is living up to its old “move fast and break things” mantra.
Which isn’t good news for the intellectual property holders in the middle of all this. After all, the average viral tattoo video won’t have a super accessible copyright for the system to track down. For now they may have to fight the battle by reporting bad or unapproved content one video at a time.
So what can you do in the meantime to help fight against bad content? Justin McNaughton explains for TechAttaché:
- Photos – Most sites will now allow you to display the photo by posting the url from the original site. That way the photo is not permanently copied.
- Videos – As with photos, most sites will also allow you to display video by posting a url rather than copying the video. This is how Spongepants got here.
- Audio – Is actually trickier. You can sometimes find a url of a player that you can link.
- Text – Just write your own.
As a general rule, take a few seconds before using content to figure out how to share it on your site without copying it. Also, your own content is always better.
Note that if you are using the content to sell something, these simple bullet points aren’t quite sufficient.