Another video about Facebook’s “freebooting” problem is making the rounds, this time with screenshots of emails sent from the company to YouTube star Ethan Klein.
Over the last year Facebook has trotted out some impressive stats about the growth of its native video platform. But amid the big numbers — 8 billion video views per day! — creators from YouTube and Vine have loudly criticised the social network for allowing Facebook users to rip off their content and repost it without adequate consequence.
Stealing videos to repost them on Facebook is called “freebooting,” and it has creators incensed about both the loss of intellectual property and ad revenue that they could have made on YouTube. An animated video on how Facebook is “stealing billions of views” recently went completely viral.
Facebook has addressed the problem using a system called Audible Magic which uses “audio fingerprinting” to identify stolen content before it’s uploaded, as well as its tools for flagging copyright-protected material. It bans repeat offenders from posting and it is also building another video-matching technology that it has rolled out to a subset of creators for initial testing.
Klein’s post describes how another Facebook user downloaded a video from his comedic YouTube channel “Ethan and Hila” and then uploaded it in its entirety into Facebook’s native video unit, where it racked up more views than the original had. When he went through Facebook’s copy-right infringement form, here was the response:
When Klein followed up insisting that his video was completely ripped off, Facebook insisted that it couldn’t do anything, but that he could follow-up with the person who had uploaded the stolen content:
“I’m sure they will be happy to remove the video just because you ask them nicely,” Klein says sarcastically, mimicking Facebook’s response, “But us — the people whose platform it is hosting your video and making money off of it — our hands are tied.”
After Business Insider reached out to Facebook to ask about why it didn’t protect Klein’s content, the social network ended up taking the offending video down.
“We take intellectual property reports very seriously,” a spokesperson said via email. “Our team deals with a large volume of reports every day, and we strive to promptly remove infringing videos. In this case, we made a mistake. The infringing video is no longer on Facebook. We apologise for this error.”
Facebook has started testing “Suggested videos” interspersed with video ads. But until it can get its freebooting problem under control, it can’t roll out a full system, at risk of rewarding theives with ad revenue.
And, as Klein’s situation shows, there are still some bugs in the system.
Here’s the video in question: