Facebook Using DMCA Notices To Takedown Private Videos?

from the say-what-now? dept

You may remember last month that we had a story about Google taking down a video on Google Video for copyright infringement, even though the video itself (a brief Christmas home movie) was set to private, and only 3 or 4 people had seen it. We were curious as to why Google would be scanning videos set to private and taking them down. At least in that case, Google admitted that it was an automated scanner (though never explained why it was reviewing private videos).

However, some friends of mine are now facing a similar, but more worrisome, situation with Facebook. A friend got married back in July, and some other friends who were in attendance filmed various parts of the wedding ceremony and reception. As is pretty common these days, they later took the best clips from those videos, set them to music and posted them to Facebook — but set the videos to only be shared directly with friends. My friend Hersh used two songs dubbed over the video, one by a relatively unknown artist, Xavier Naidoo, and one by Kanye West. My friend Michael had an entirely different video, and used two different songs. One by the Deftones, and one by Jason Mraz.

Even though both videos were posted in July, and both were set to be only viewable to friends, rather than made public, both Hersh and Michael received DMCA takedown notices from Facebook with the videos taken down. The takedowns (which both sent me) don’t specify that Facebook received a takedown, though they do point them to a “counter-notification” page, which is what the DMCA would offer. So, from what’s been presented, it’s unclear if Facebook actually received a DMCA or just decided on its own to take down two private videos of the same event on the same day.

While, technically, (and this point is arguable) these videos may be infringing, there’s a good case to be made that they were fair use. They most certainly were not commercial in nature, and most clearly did not diminish the commercial potential of the works in question. In fact, Hersh named 3 of our friends who specifically had asked him who Xavier Naidoo was, so they could go find more of his music. Now Hersh can no longer promote Naidoo’s music. That seems to go against everything that copyright is supposed to be about.

Neither is going to file a counternotice, because of the gray area concerning whether or not this is fair use (something Hersh understands quite well as a law student), and Facebook’s form makes you swear under penalty of perjury that the content is legal. The whole incident raises a bunch of questions about how Facebook goes about taking down private videos, and why such videos are considered copyright infringement in the first place. In the meantime, if you have videos with backing music in them, apparently you’re not welcome at Facebook.

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Comments on “Facebook Using DMCA Notices To Takedown Private Videos?”

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39 Comments
Hersh says:

Facebook reinstated the video

Facebook reinstated the video after I wrote them an email asking for the takedown reason. I believe they reinstated the video because they saw it was harmless, after manual inspection. There must have been some sort of automated tool which flagged the video to begin with — a human corrected the mistake.

I can live with that behavior if they change the wording on their counter-notice form to make it less terrifying. Saying that you shouldn’t file a counter-notice unless you know for SURE that something is fair use, on threat of perjury, is pretty lame. I’m sure they don’t expect all their customers to be copyright experts.

Courts really need a nice juicy case about user generated content so we can decide these fair-use issues once and for all. All this ambiguity blows.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Facebook reinstated the video

The government or someone should create a system, database, or website where we can publicly post fair use situations like this and allow copyright holders to let us know whether they think the situation is fair use or not. If they don’t think it’s fair use, they could object or say they don’t mind and give us permission. If we disagree with their objection, we could tell them to bring us to court. If we agree or don’t want trouble, we would cease and desist. The government could even tell some copyright judges to comment on the posts and situations.

ydfeed

Linda L Martin (profile) says:

Re: Facebook reinstated the video

Hi, I have been posting video’s that I do dances to at church, I use flags and I dance with certain music. These video’s are posted for the one’s that didn’t make it to church to see, and so maybe someone will be blessed by them.
Facebook sent me an email saying they took a video off that I had posted it was not me in it, I had posted it for Judah another dance group at our church. They said I had violated copy right’s. They needed me to fill out the info and sign a digital signature. I have not felt comfortable doing that, because someone could use my signature for other things. So I’m in the dark as to how I can be reinstated back so I can post my video’s. Evidently someone turned me in.
We need to know what is reasonable. When I post, and when I go to other chuches, they always want to know about the music, they love it, and probably some have purchased some of the music I do. So in my humble opinion I am promoting the songs. I frankly was shocked, that this happened. I purchase all of my music from Itunes. I had one I downloaded off youtube, that I did not pay for. I have had a strange feeling for doing that.It was a little while after that, that I was blocked. So maybe that’s what caused it. I would appreicate any light or info you can share with me on this.
Thank you, God Bless you!
Linda

Hersh says:

one correction

Also, once the video was reinstated, I went over the settings on it; it wasn’t set to “friends only” — so it was a “public video” in that sense.

Not that that means anything. Facebook doesn’t have a video search capability far as I know. Also, my video did not have any copyrighted tags. So the only people that viewed it were still my friends, and people my friends sent it to — i.e other people from the wedding, and family.

WarOtter (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The only person coming off as a whiney little bitch is yourself. So yes… you fail.

What if hotmail or gmail decided to scan attachments in emails for copyrighted works? What if your camcorder stopped recording the instant copyrighted music was played in the background?

BTW why use quotes around “content”. Are you trying to argue what constitutes content? Or are you just using random punctuation to intentionally sound more like a douchenozzle (It’s working!)?

Adam Fisk (profile) says:

Re: own your content

@Anonymous Coward People are posting to Facebook because that’s where everyone else can easily see the videos. With a video on a random server, you’d have to manually e-mail everyone for them to see it. Wedding videos are the perfect example of when the social graph adds value to content.

The point you bring up is a good one, though. If you want to control your content, don’t give control of it to someone else (duhh). With LittleShoot (aka my software), for example, your videos are hosted on your own computer and distributed via p2p. You can tag your file however you want. When someone goes to download it, they get it from all available peers automatically (always swarms), and you can include public HTTP servers in the swarm if you want to speed things up. The sort of automated scanning Facebook is doing is impossible since we don’t have the content, but if LittleShoot gets a takedown notice, the videos are no longer available in search results. There should be room for the best of both worlds if/when Facebook opens up Facebook Connect to more than the initial launch partners, depending on how much they make available via the API.

Anon E. Mousekuhteer says:

Re: Re:

That was uncalled for and totally unworthy of posting. Grow up.

As an artist I wouldn’t want my art posted in a video w/o my knowledge. Let me know what you want to use it for and as long as it isn’t being used commercially or in a way that is derrogatory to my work or others I’ll gladly let you use it.

dood says:

Re: Re: Re:

“…3 forms of enemy speech, speaking as an (artist) etcetera…”

You can’t control thousands of people who may want to sample audio work for non-profit use once it’s released into the public realm.

And, please, from now on, anytime you’re about to refer to yourself as an artist because it’s all emancipating, empowering, & self congratulatory, try saying the word accountant instead. This goes for “as a (your religion here)” too.

hegemon13 says:

How is this infringement?

Wouldn’t this be a private use? As long as the person posting the video legally owned the songs, I don’t see any infringement. It is the equivalent of letting a friend listen to one of your CDs in the privacy of your house. Just because this is a digital “room,” so to speak, does not change the fact that it is private, and therefore not subject to even a performance license.

Pope Ratzo (profile) says:

I’ve had completely original videos, set to my own original music taken down the same way recently. Something very weird is going on.

The only person who can possibly claim copyright to these videos is me, and I definitely did not make a DMCA notice.

These were abstract videos with absolutely nothing that could be considered offensive, unless of course you find electronic dark ambient music offensive.

We’re going to find that there’s pressure being exerted to have any video with ANY music taken down. Even when the music is original.

Twinrova says:

I smell a copycat!

Mike,
You and I disagree on some points, and I’m okay with that. But I would like to point out something obvious with this blog in hopes that maybe you’ll start understanding my “negative” stance against Corporate America.

Have you ignored the number of DMCA blogs you’ve posted in the last year?

As I’ve stated: When one business sees another getting away with something, they’re going to copy it and the result always ends up hurting consumers.

You and I both know the DMCA has massive issues, but now you’ll have a better understanding of why I challenge some of your posts regarding big business.

You now have a library of proof Corporate America is in need of major changes in the way it does “business”.

See you (objecting, I’m sure) at the next blog!

Lao Watson-Smith (user link) says:

I think it is just FB taking precautionary measures ...

This happened to me, and I found that filling out their “Counter Notification” automatically re-instated the video in question.

I belive, therefore, that it is a totally automated process in which FB identifies video or other media which contains any kind of 3rd party media embedded in it, and flags it and disables it.

If the user then contests that they are within their rights to use it then FB automatically puts it back, and that contention from the user will protect them in the future.

Although a bit annoying, I can see their point on it and it is probably quite a clever way to protect themselves against future action by the Greedy-Thieving-Bastard protectors of antiquated copy-right law!

Ric says:

Contacting Facebook

Hey Hersh, I too just found myself in the same predicament with a small movie I made. I captured video of my friends little puppy and him playing on the beach and set the best shots to a song and Facebook took down the video about a week later.

I’d like to contest their decision to take it down. I was wondering how you contacted Facebook, I can’t seem to find an email address on their site.

Susan Richardson says:

video removed and NEVER posted!

Apparently Facebook is still up to this and it’s even worse now. I posted a small video of photos of my dog, set to a newly released song by Susan Boyle which I took of a CD that I PURCHASED. Facebook refused to post the video at all, sent me the notification and even after I “accepted” the notification, the video was still never added. It was set to friends only.

laurel derksen (profile) says:

take down home videos

I just tried to put a video that I had taken in India on Facebook— just movies of elephant rides, street scenes, famous buildings of Delhi.
Then I put the slideshow to Indian music from Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,
I also was just showing to friends and it was a trip I took with a college group.
It finished and then i got a notice that it was an “infringement of copyright” and they removed it.

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