If you use the internet, chances are you’re familiar with Casey Neistat’s work.
He’s the filmmaker behind viral hits like “Make it Count,” in which he blows the money Nike gave him to make an ad, using it to travel around the world instead. He’s also behind that video that shows just how hard it can be to ride a bike in New York City’s bike lanes.
His videos get millions of views.
But that number at the bottom right corner of his YouTube videos — 14,920,486 for “Make it Count,” and 6,198,129 views for “Snowboarding in New York City” — doesn’t always reflect the actual number of views his videos have received.
That’s because sometimes his videos are downloaded from YouTube, and then uploaded to Facebook without his permission. Even worse, Neistat tells Tech Insider that Facebook makes it extremely difficult for copyright holders to request their video be taken down. The process is commonly called “freebooting.”
Freebooting came into sharp focus this week when Hank Green, the prominent YouTube creator and co-founder of the Vidcon convention, wrote about the problem on Medium. In his post, Green pointed to a report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs that found that a whopping 725 of the 100 most popular videos on Facebook during the first quarter of this year were freebooted.
Facebook is making a huge push into video. The company said in April that 4 billion videos are viewed on the service each day, up from 1 billion in September of last year, Re/code reported.
Freebooting, as the Wall Street Journal wrote this week, can be an issue for video creators because they can lose out on ad revenue they’d get from YouTube had the video been embedded using YouTube’s player rather than uploaded to Facebook.
Neistat told Tech Insider that he’s seen travel companies freeboot his “Make it Count” video to promote themselves on Facebook. He also found that his “Snowboarding in New York” video had been uploaded to Facebook by a radio station and had received more than 4 million views on Facebook.
Neistat said that one of the big issues with freebooting is how Facebook handles complaints from copyright holders like himself.
“The times that I’ve had to get content removed from Facebook it’s been incredibly complicated,” he told Tech Insider. “It’s a convoluted process with very little feedback.”
“To go from seeing it on a page to acutally filing a report — to find the form to file the report — and everything in between was an absolutely convoluted process,” Neistat said.
Neistat couldn’t recall exactly how long it took for the videos to be taken down after he’s filed reports. But he said the process with Facebook contrasts sharply with YouTube, which removes freebooted videos within hours of his complaint.
“I feel like they have got my back,” Neistat said of YouTube. “I feel like they want to be in the right… I feel like my IP is being protected.”
In an email to Tech Insider, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company takes “intellectual property rights very seriously,” and pointed to tools that “allow content owners to report potential copyright infringement.”
Facebook also noted that it uses Audible Magic, a service that helps identify copyrighted content, and said that it’s “a significant technical challenge to solve, but we have a team working on it and expect to have more to share this summer.”
Neistat doesn’t have ads on his videos, but that doesn’t mean that freebooting doesn’t directly affect him and his livelihood. Companies hire Neistat to produce content videos based on how many people see his work.
“In the social space, your reach and your viewership is your value,” Neistat said. “So forget about monetisation, forget about CPMs and all of that. Your value is in how great your reach is, and that’s true across all social platforms. It’s all quantifiable… So anytime someone is taking views from your work, they’re getting value off of something that’s not theirs.
“The cost is tremendous,” he said.