Facebook on piracy complaints: 'We're working on it,' but effective solution may be far off

Following a week of increased media coverage about the massive amount of video content being posted to its site without the content owners' permission -- and after months of complaints by YouTube creators in particular, who say the problem has affected their revenues -- Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) said it is developing additional tools to automatically detect copyrighted materials.

But some are skeptical about the effectiveness of Facebook's promised solution, and its implementation is likely several months away -- meaning the freebooting problem may not get better anytime soon.

Freebooting, unlike its nautical connotations from yesteryear, is a process of "ripping" a video that's posted on another website, such as YouTube, and then posting the video on one's own Facebook account. (It's different from simply sharing the video via a "share" button or posting a direct link.) The most tangible harm to the content owners is the loss of ad revenue due to far fewer views on their original platform -- a video may go viral on Facebook, but few will know the original video is on YouTube, nor will they go and look it up after having seen it already on the social media site.

In response to heightened coverage of the problem -- as much as 70 percent, perhaps more, of the videos on Facebook may actually be freebooted -- Facebook called attention to its existing Audible Magic content detection software and said it is also developing video matching technology that sounds similar to YouTube's ContentID system.

"We have an established foundation in place today," the social media site said in a blog post. "Videos uploaded to Facebook are run through the Audible Magic system, which uses audio fingerprinting technology to help identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way onto the platform. We have reporting tools that enable content owners to tell us when someone has uploaded their video without permission, and we promptly remove those videos in response to valid reports."

Facebook said it will soon begin beta testing the improved tools with a "small group" of unnamed partners that include media companies, multichannel networks (MCNs) and some individual creators. Once developed, the tech will be available to a "subset of creators," the company said.

The company added that this is the beginning of a long-term process. "This will take time, but we're working on it, and we're committed," the company said.

But creating an effective, integrated system could be more difficult than the social media site has envisioned.

"In order for Facebook to fully replicate YouTube's Content ID system, it will have to create a way for content owners to leave their stuff up on the site, and share ad revenue the clips generate," said Re/code's Peter Kafka in a story about Facebook's stepped-up efforts. "That requires a lot of business development work, and Facebook isn't close to getting that together yet -- it's only starting, for instance, to figure out ways to share ad revenue with video owners."

For more:
- see this blog post
- Re/code has this article
- Time has this article

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