As Facebook has briskly emerged as YouTube’s first forbidding challenger in online video, racking up 4 billion views per day, the social network may have a mounting copyright issue on its hands — one that smacks of a similar conflict YouTube faced in its early days.
Increasingly, YouTube creators are alleging that their popular videos are being pilfered from the platform and uploaded to Facebook. A new term has even been coined for this practice: ‘freebooting.’
Because Facebook doesn’t offer adequate copyright protection or give creators the ability to monetize their videos just yet, argues George Strompolos, CEO of leading YouTube network Fullscreen, freebooting is detracting from ever-valuable YouTube views.
YouTube is no stranger to copyright issues itself. In 2007, Google was sued by Viacom for copyright infringement to the tune of $1 billion — a suit it settled out of court last year.
But in 2008, to redress copyright concerns, YouTube developed Content ID, a highly sophisticated system that recognizes duplicated content across its platform and gives creators the opportunity to flag — or, more cleverly, to monetize — stolen videos. (YouTube has spent about $60 million to develop Content ID, and it has accounted for $1 billion in payments to creators thus far, or one-third of all of YouTube’s monetizable views.)
While Facebook does offer certain copyright protections, the onus falls on creators to hunt down stolen videos and then either report them (as with any other offending Facebook post) or file a copyright claim.
Creators can also send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request via snail mail, notes Strompolos, but that can be both time-consuming and costly. “Frankly,” he tweeted, “I’m shocked that a rights holder with deep pockets has not sued yet.”
“As video continues to grow 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,” the company told Entrepreneur in a statement, noting that it would have more to share this summer.
If it ever does hope to eclipse YouTube, however — which Strompolos fully expects Facebook can — several things need to happen. First, he believes that Facebook needs to launch its own Content ID system of sorts and offer creators the opportunity to monetize. Additionally, Facebook needs to develop a refined search function so that videos don’t get buried under inundating feeds. A dedicated video app and a proliferation of embeds across the web could also help Facebook ultimately vanquish YouTube, Strompolos said.