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Facebook Has A Video Piracy Problem

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As things stand right now, it's far too easy to snag video content from other websites and upload it to Facebook without credit or permission from the original source. This act is called "freebooting" – coined by Brady Haran and his podcast Hello Internet – and it's pissing people off.

What freebooting essentially means for Facebook is that anyone can download videos from a certain website and re-upload them with Facebook's preferred embedded video player. Why would Facebook not have a problem with this? Because the views this content garners help drive advertising traffic on the site — making Facebook the money that rightfully belongs in the content creator's pocket.

According to a recent report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, in Q1 of this past year alone, about 73 percent of the 1,000 most popular videos on Facebook were freebooted uploads. Accounting for around 17 billion views in total, that isn't a small number. For user seamlessness, Facebook's algorithm encourages video content to look fairly uniform — flattening the possibility of crediting, linking to, or even acknowledging an original creator.

In a recent Medium post, YouTube creator and educator Hank Green challenged Facebook's claim about surpassing YouTube in streaming content by highlighting the less-than-holy mechanisms by which it gathers and moderates this content.

"As soon as it [YouTube] got big (and got bought), Google fixed this problem [copyright infringement] with 'Content ID,' a system that analyzes every single video upload to YouTube and checks it against a massive database of known owned content," Green wrote.

Facebook hasn't been quiet about this either, and is taking steps to create a fair-pay environment for creators. In response to Green's blog post, Matt Pakes – a product designer at Facebook – said they take intellectual property rights very seriously, and "have used the Audible Magic system for years to help prevent unauthorized video content on Facebook." In addition, he mentioned that Facebook also provides "reporting tools" for content owners to report copyright infringement and that they are actively exploring further solutions.

According to BBC, the company has recently announced a new "video matching technology that would alert content creators if their videos were reposted to Facebook without their permission."

Still, this alert system wouldn't completely eradicate the problem — even with a few hours of discrepancy between the content being uploading and the owner being notified (and taking action), Facebook would have already made a considerable chunk in ad revenue.

Needless to say, this is an uphill battle that needs to be fought. Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos, who runs one of the largest YouTube networks, hit the nail right on the head: "I think Facebook is a product and engineering company," he told Re/code, "and I think companys like that tend to want to create the experience first and then figure out the rules later."

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