As you may recall, back in 2007, entertainment giant Viacom sued YouTube for $1 billion, arguing that it was nothing more than a piracy site. Of course, Viacom's case faltered, badly, when it was later revealed that over 100 of the videos it listed as infringing had been... uploaded by Viacom employees as part of a marketing strategy. That act alone showed that even Viacom employees recognized the site had "substantial noninfringing uses." After seven years of battling it out in court, the two sides finally settled last year. However, it does seem noteworthy that Paramount Pictures, the major Hollywood movie studio that is owned by Viacom just announced that it had posted over 100 of its own movies for free on YouTube in their entirety.
This is important for a variety of reasons, but most of all it shows that, once again, when legacy entertainment firms learn how to embrace new technologies, rather than sue them, they're better off. Legacy entertainment companies have basically tried to sue or kill every new technological innovation that somehow challenged new business models. They sued over radio, television, VCRs, cable TV, MP3 players, DVRs and internet video. And yet, once they learned how to use each of those, they realized how great these platforms were in helping to distribute, to promote and to monetize their works.
If Viacom had succeeded in its lawsuits and killed off YouTube, would these movies be available for free online today? I think most people would agree the answer is "no way."
This is a big part of the reason why I get concerned about attempts to shut down businesses that some insist are "nothing but piracy sites." The VCR was "nothing but a piracy tool." The MP3 player was "nothing but a piracy tool." Radio was "nothing but a piracy tool." And YouTube was "nothing but a piracy site." And yet... given the chance to grow and to innovate, these services show that they are successful because they're providing a better product. Suing them out of existence takes away opportunities like this, where companies learn that they can benefit from these (often free!) services to better promote, distribute and monetize their own works. It's easy to think that something that is often used for infringing works in the early days is never going to be anything useful or legitimate, but that ignores the history of innovation in this space. Every new innovation originally looked like a piracy tool. Until it no longer did. Perhaps, rather than trying to kill off every new service, Hollywood should take a lesson and realize that maybe it should be figuring out better ways to embrace them early on, rather than many years later.
As of late, Nintendo's relationship with YouTube and the YouTube community has been, shall we say, tumultuous. After rolling out a bad policy to share revenue with YouTubers on the basis that those personalities torpedo their reputations by promising only positive Nintendo coverage, claiming the monetization for a large number of "let's play" videos uploaded by independent YouTubers, and even going so far as to lay claim to the review of a Nintendo game created by well-known YouTuber "Angry Joe", Nintendo clearly seems to believe that YouTube is not so much an independent community as it is some kind of official public relations wing for the company. This is really dumb on many different levels, but chiefly it's dumb because it breeds ill-will amongst fans, of which Nintendo used to have many.
And the war drum beats on, apparently, as Nintendo has seen fit to issue massive takedowns of videos of fan-created Mario Bros. levels as the company releases its own Mario-level-builder, Super Mario Maker. What appears to be catching these YouTubers in Nintendo's crosshairs is if they used any emulators or hacks in order to make these levels.
Nintendo is targeting speedrunners and modders in a new round of YouTube copyright claims, issuing takedown requests to users who post footage from modified Super Mario World levels. The mass deletion coincides with the upcoming launch of Super Mario Maker, a Nintendo-licensed level creation toolkit for the Wii U console. Removed videos feature unauthorized Super Mario World levels created using freeware tools, rather than Nintendo’s official level design software.
Nintendo’s recent copyright claims impact speedrunners who have spent years crafting and documenting unsanctioned Super Mario World mods. According to a Kotaku report, YouTube user “PangaeaPanga” states that their channel was “wrecked” by copyright claims, resulting in the permanent removal of many popular videos.
In other words, modders had long beat Nintendo to the punch in creating software that allowed fans of Mario Bros. to create their own levels, upload them, and have folks like PangaeaPanga play them out and eventually master them. This was allowed to go on exactly up until Nintendo decided to jump into this arena, at which time the takedowns ensued. What you may not know is that there has been an active Mario Bros. modding community for these past few years, dedicated to building the most challenging levels for others to play and then post their runs on YouTube. In other words, these are huge Nintendo fans.
Super Mario World enthusiasts frequently create custom levels designed to challenge veteran players. Many of these levels require the use of little-known glitches and quirks within Super Mario World‘s engine, adding a degree of difficulty not present in the original game. Creative application of Super Mario World‘s hacking utilities has also produced unique autoplaying levels, including tributes that link in-game sound effects to backing music tracks.
Under the terms of YouTube’s copyright structure, users who have their videos claimed by copyright owners lose the ability to earn advertising revenue from their creations. Copyright holders have the option of claiming ad revenue from content-matched videos. As part of its most recent round of copyright claims, Nintendo instead opted to delete targeted videos entirely.
So we have Nintendo staring lovingly into the eyes of its biggest fans while pissing on their legs. And for what? Part of the reason Nintendo will likely make a killing with Super Mario Maker is that these dedicated fans had built up an interest in these modded levels and speedruns in the first place. Now, Nintendo intends on swooping in, killing off the videos of these fans, and yet cashing in on the market that the fans essentially created? How charming.
It's not that Nintendo can't do this, it's that it shouldn't. The company gains nothing except another round of fan discontent. Real smart, guys.
Digital Music News has an unfortunate story that we've heard too many times before: that of an independent musician successfully building a following... only to do a deal with a major label and see it all come crashing down. What's interesting is that the artist, Terra Naomi, was willing to lay out all of the details. It's worth a read, as it's a story that is pretty common. That is not to say that signing a major label deal is necessarily a bad thing. For some artists it may be the right decision. But the way that major labels work is that you'll only get enough attention for the label to determine if you're "the next big thing" where all its revenue will come from for the next few years... and if things don't seem to be going that way, you'll be pushed aside quickly. The standard stat given is that 90% of major label deals "fail." That does not mean they are not profitable for the label. The way RIAA accounting works, the labels can make out like a bandit on many of those record deals, while the artist gets hung out to dry. That appears to be the case with Naomi as well.
She points out that she was one of the first artists to build up a large fanbase solely based on her YouTube and MySpace accounts. Here was her most popular song, Say It's Possible:
In the article, she talks about how she was connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. She talks about using YouTube to directly communicate with her fans, answering their questions, sending them messages and the like. And then, Universal Music came calling. And she made the very reasonable decision to sign with them, noting that while she had just pressed her own EP and quickly sold 5,000 of them in the first month they were available, she was still in debt, and a $250,000 advance was hard to pass up. It's easy to mock this decision, but you're probably not the one sitting there in debt with $250,000 on the table. That's why it's so tempting and why so many artists jump at the opportunity. It's not a crazy decision to make -- but it may present long term challenges, which is exactly what Naomi discovered.
Despite attracting attention for her success on YouTube, the label basically (1) had no understanding of YouTube and (2) recommended that she stop connecting with her fans. In other words, the exact opposite of what artists need to be doing in this internet connected era:
Contributing further to their feelings of betrayal was the mandate that came from my team at the label. They needed me to be “less accessible” and more untouchable. All these kids on YouTube saw me as an equal, as “one of them” – did I want to be a YouTube star, or did I want to be a rock star? They threw down the gauntlet, and there was no question in my mind. I wanted to be a rock star.
I handed over my mailing list and social media logins to the record label. I trusted this team of professionals to grow it into something much bigger than I could ever hope to create on my own. I backed off, disappeared, focused on writing songs and hanging out with the “right” people rather than connecting with my fans and the community I’d grown to love and depend on, prior to signing my deals. I figured I’d play by their rules for a little while, build my career into something even bigger, and reunite with my community once the label was satisfied with my rock star status.
Not surprisingly, it didn't work out that way. The label also pushed her to make a more commercial album, which she hated:
The producer I worked with told me we only had one shot, and I needed to make the album he wanted to make – with its “radio-ready” production – and once I had a few hits, I could make any album I wanted. So I made the album he wanted to make, and things didn’t happen the way he said they would. Instead of the big commercial radio success that would give me the freedom to seamlessly transition into the music I truly wanted to make, I had a big commercial flop (I think we sold something like 25,000 albums), an album I didn’t like, and I’d wasted what could have been the biggest opportunity of my life. The exposure I built independently on YouTube was more than the record label ever did for me, and I couldn’t believe I’d been so willing to hand it over for a longshot gamble on mainstream stardom.
And, of course, once she finally got out of the major label system, the audience that she had originally connected with, but forsaken, had moved on. As she notes:
My biggest takeaway from this time was a lesson in authenticity. It’s tempting to listen to people who want to change us, even just a little bit, and steer us in a direction that isn’t authentic. It’s easy to doubt ourselves, especially when we’re just starting out. We think people with more experience know better than we do about what’s best for us, and it’s simply not the case. We fall for the hard sell, the glitz and glamour, but for every massive major label success, there are dozens of disappointments and disastrous failures.
This isn't a huge surprise. For well over a decade we've been pointing out stories of successful artists who have built up huge fan bases online -- and the one factor that shows up again and again and again is authenticity. That's a huge part of the whole idea of connecting with fans. Actually being authentic is a great way to connect with like-minded fans, but it has traditionally gone against the cookie-cutter model of the major labels (though, to be fair, some are finally starting to figure this out, if only way too late).
Either way, Naomi's story is a good read, and should be worth thinking about for others who are tempted by the deals presented to them when they're first building a following. Put it in the group with the stories about RIAA accounting that further explain how a big advance may not actually be so big once you understand all the details.
Way back in early 2014, we wrote about the revelation that Microsoft and Machinima, the popular YouTube network, had worked out some kind of arrangement in which the newly-released Xbox One would get positive coverage from Machinima personalities. Likewise, Machinima's agreements with its own personalities leaked, laying out just exactly how those personalities would be compensated for pimping the Xbox One without ever informing fans that they were doing so. This, at a very minimum, was an existential gamble wagering the trust Machinima had built for itself amongst fans for the chance at some dollars from Microsoft. It was a bad wager. Once this all became public, I'm struggling to understand why anyone would put an ounce of trust in the Machinima outlet at all.
In a press release today, the FTC announced that the two parties have come to a settlement that will prevent Machinima from pulling this sort of shadiness again. Writes the FTC: “Under the proposed settlement, Machinima is prohibited from similar deceptive conduct in the future, and the company is required to ensure its influencers clearly disclose when they have been compensated in exchange for their endorsements.”
The FTC also cited specific examples of Machinima's actions, including naming personalities that were involved, helpfully torpedoing those personalities' ability to get fans to trust them in the future.
Respondent paid influencer Adam Dahlberg $15,000 for the two video reviews that he uploaded to his YouTube channel “SkyVSGaming.” In his videos, Dahlberg speaks favorably of Microsoft, Xbox One, and Ryse. Dahlberg’s videos appear to be independently produced and give the impression that they reflect his personal views. Nowhere in the videos or in the videos’ descriptions did Dahlberg disclose that Respondent paid him to create and upload them. Dahlberg’s first video received more than 360,000 views, and his second video more than 250,000 views.
Respondent paid influencer Tom Cassell $30,000 for the two video reviews that he uploaded to his YouTube channel “TheSyndicateProject.” In his videos, Cassell speaks favorably of Microsoft, Xbox One, and Ryse. Cassell’s videos appear to be independently produced and give the impression that they reflect his personal views. Nowhere in the videos or in the videos’ descriptions did Cassell disclose that Respondent paid him to create and upload them. Cassell’s first video received more than 730,000 views, and his second video more than 300,000 views.
The FTC then goes on to expose the entire deal Machinima had with Microsoft's advertising group, Starcom, which included an initial roll out of paid positive coverage by a few personalities, but was then to evolve into a Machinima-wide program of paid-for positive coverage of the Xbox One, with payments to be based on traffic/views.
This, it should go without saying, was insane. In the arena of YouTube personalities in general, and perhaps more specifically with the gaming fanbase and the culture that surrounds it, you simply cannot gamble with your reputation and expect the reward to be worth it.
There's an old saying that those that lie down with dogs will get back up with fleas. One modern derivative of that maxim might be: if you bend over backwards for copyright censors you will become censors yourself. No better example of this can be found than YouTube's ContentID system, the automated platform that scours YouTube videos looking for uploads of identical audio or video content and proactively takes them down in favor of the original content owner. That's how it works in theory, that is. In practice, ContentID appears to be most useful in taking down fair use content, trolling legitimate creators, and even silencing political speech, supposedly the most revered thing in this great Republic of ours. It's typical in these cases for the automation to be blamed, but that's a mistake. The real blame lies with Google for implementing such a flawed system, with the entertainment industry and trolls for abusing it, and with all of us for simply accepting it. Everyone, in other words, is to blame.
I came to that conclusion recently, when Hugh Hefner used Mario Bros. to show me how silly all of this is. The whole thing started when a Kotaku writer uploaded a video of some Mario Maker levels that play themselves.
Two days ago, I uploaded a video to YouTube. It featured some awesome automatic Mario Maker levels that basically play themselves. Today, I was dinged with a copyright notice for that same video. The claimant was none other than...Playboy? I’m serious. I didn’t get flagged by Nintendo. Rather, I got flagged by Hugh Hefner’s operation.
Playboy, obviously, does not own Mario. It did not create Mario Maker. It did not build the level on display in my video. And yet my video was still flagged. What gives?
What gave was that Playboy had uploaded a video that contained one of the same levels in the other video. Because these levels play by themselves, rather than being played by a human, the videos have the exact same content. So, faster than a Mario Brother running with the 'B' button mashed down, ContentID flagged Kotaku's video as infringing and sent out a notice. Other users likewise had videos of that Mario Maker level flagged in favor of Playboy, which I am very much certain doesn't own any of the IP surrounding Nintendo's center-piece franchise. Most, like the Kotaku writer, submitted disputes which were resolved quickly. Playboy, for its part, has been active in getting all of the claims dismissed...
...which is entirely besides the goddamn point. ContentID was dinging uploaders for copyright violations in an automated fashion, with no checks, on content owned by an unrelated party. That doesn't make any sense. And, in some cases, there can be actual harm done.
When you get flagged, the claimant has a whole 30 days to review your dispute, during which your video typically stays up while also making money for the claimant. Sometimes, the claimant will even be able to block the video from being viewed entirely. Even if the dispute gets dismissed, it might mean waiting days if not an entire month for the motion to actually get through. In the meantime, any YouTuber who supports themselves with ads and just wanted to show off the level to their subscribers, or perhaps added some good commentary to the footage, will lose revenue (as well as gain an unnecessary headache.)
Personally, I'd love to see "An unnecessary headache" as the epitaph on ContentID's gravestone.
Earlier today Techdirt writer Tim Geigner pointed me to a YouTube video that used Twitter user names to create a punnish version of the 80s hit "Tainted Love" retitled Tweeted Love. It's pretty amusing:
In checking out the YouTube account of the guy who created it, Jim Mortleman, a more recent video posted just a few days ago popped up, entitled Nerdpunna - Smells Like Tweet Spirit. This was the same style video, using Twitter usernames to create an absolutely hilarious version of the famous Nirvana song. It was so well done (perhaps because Kurt Cobain's lyrics are so unintelligible) that I couldn't believe it had only around 2,000 views. So I tweeted it, joking that people should check it out before it got taken down.
A bunch of people started retweeting and linking to it, with many of them commenting on how great the video was or how funny it was. Even people who aren't Nirvana fans were talking about it. A few examples:
And there were many more like that. In short: the damn thing is really funny and super well done. After realizing that his video was suddenly getting an influx of traffic, the creator of it, Jim Mortleman (who says that the videos are actually a group project in finding the profiles, which he then puts together in the video) tweeted me that he was pretty sure he was safe because he'd been alerted that UMG was "monetizing" his video -- which is one of the options in YouTube for copyright holders if they want to make money on someone using their work, rather than taking it down.
From his YouTube screen, it actually showed that Universal Music had blocked the video in one country while monetizing it elsewhere:
However, just a few hours later, as the video started getting more and more attention, views and tweets... apparently Universal changed its mind -- and if you now visit the page, this is what you see:
Mortleman says that within YouTube it's now officially blocked in all countries. This is a ContentID match, rather than a direct takedown, though the company clearly made the decision to switch it from monetizing it to taking it down -- so someone made a decision.
And it's a hellishly stupid decision. The video was fantastic and didn't take anything away from the song. It certainly wasn't a replacement for the song and, if anything, was likely to draw a lot more interest to the song and remind people of its existence. I'm not a huge fan of the song, but have been humming it to myself all afternoon because of that video (which I ended up watching a few times).
Also, this seems like a pretty clear case of fair use -- though I imagine some will disagree. The hilarious use of twitter user names to create alternative lyrics to the song is quite transformative. No one was watching this video as a replacement for the original song, but because the video itself sort of celebrated the song with alternative lyrics made up entirely of Twitter profile names where "Here we are now, entertain us" because "Huey Long Gnarl Emma Talus" (if you haven't seen the actual video... it's much funnier in the way it was presented). And now it's all gone and you can't see it.
All because of copyright law and UMG's total lack of a sense of humor.
Even if you think the fair use case is bunk and that the video is infringing and UMG is totally, 100% in the right to do what it did, I'm curious how this helps UMG in any way, shape or form. It doesn't help them get any more money, and it just makes people pissed off. How is that a smart business decision?
Update: Jim has now posted a silent version of the video so you can see what it looks like, though it's really not the same effect (though you can try to line up the audio with it to try to replicate the effect):
Hopefully you know who singer Dan Bull is by now. We've written about him many times. He's written and performed a bunch of songs about topics that we're interested in (and recently composed the awesome new theme song for the Techdirt Podcast (which you do listen to, right?). Dan has been able to build a career around giving away his music, and letting others do stuff with it. But he keeps running into ridiculous issues with YouTube's ContentID system. There was the time his video got silenced after another singer used the same sample he did, and then claimed the original work as his own. Or the time he got his video taken down because another rapper, Lord Finesse, was pissed off that Bull was criticizing Finesse's lawsuit against yet another rapper, Mac Miller. While YouTube has been a key place where Bull has built his audience, his run-in's with bogus claims and other problems even led him to write an entire diss track about ContentID.
And, wouldn't you know it, he's having yet more problems with it. As we've discussed, in the last few years, there's been a rise in a new breed of trolls, known as ContentID trolls, who claim to hold the copyright in music that they don't have copyright in, and then use ContentID to "monetize" other people using that work for themselves. There are a number of companies and middlemen that help them do this, including one called Horus Music, which has become the perfect tool for ContentID trolls. The trolls take someone else's work, sign up with Horus, upload that other person's music, claim it as their own, and then start making claims on other people's videos. Free money.
That's what just happened to Dan Bull -- who actively encourages people to use and share his own music (over which he claims no copyright restrictions). A fan of Dan's reached out to him, after a video he had made received a copyright claim, supposedly covering a song that the fan had used from Dan Bull. Bull reached out to Horus Music, telling them that its user, "DrewMCGoo72" was claiming copyright on other people's music, and asked the company to investigate the situation, and to explain "how this happened, and what exact steps will be taken to prevent such a thing from occurring again."
The company issued a weak apology, saying that the DrewMCGoo72 account had already been suspended but "this must have been missed." And then they tell Dan (who encourages people to share his music) "It is a real shame that people feel that it is acceptable to steal someones music!" Except this isn't about "stealing music." This is about filing bogus copyright claims and claiming revenue or harming individuals who used music that they knew to be without copyright restrictions. Dan responded to Horus noting that he wasn't satisfied with the company's response:
Horus Music's system has been exploited with the following results:
A) An anonymous stranger has walked away with revenue from fraudulently claiming my music as their own, facilitated by Horus Music
B) A child has received a copyright claim through Content ID from Horus Music and as a result has removed his 100% legitimate video out of fear of the consequences
C) I look like a hypocrite and a dick for telling kids they can use my music, and they then receive a copyright claim on their videos for using the very same music
You say you can only apologise - is an apology really all you are going to do?
Horus' only response was that since the kid took down his original video, the company can't do anything to release the claim "but I assume we aren't claiming it any longer."
It seems pretty clear that this is not the only time this has happened, since you can find other examples of Horus being used in this manner. This seems to raise a pretty serious question about how those companies are allowed to continue using the ContentID platform. After all, ContentID has a three strikes program for people who receive copyright violation claims. Why doesn't it have a similar three strikes program for those who abuse ContentID to claim copyright over projects they have no right to?
Either way, we'll leave you with Dan's song about ContentID, as it seems only fitting:
We write frequently about those who abuse the DMCA either directly for the sake of censorship or, more commonly, because some are in such a rush to take down anything and everything that they don't bother (or care) to check to see if what they're taking down is actually infringing. The latter, while common, could potentially expose those issuing the takedowns to serious legal liability, though the courts are still figuring out to what extent.
Last week, we wrote about Boston public television station WGBH issuing a bogus takedown on some public domain (government created) video that Carl Malamud had uploaded to YouTube. That doesn't look like an automated takedown, but rather someone working for WGBH's legal team who just decided that anything with "American Experience" in a title must be infringing. Malamud has now published the letter that he sent YouTube, about the whole situation. It includes some more details concerning the insulting manner in which WGBH's legal team, Susan Kantrowitz and Eric Brass, handled the situation, including Brass telling Malamud that this wasn't a big deal because deleting this "particular film" was not that important.
Meanwhile, I finally reached the WGBH legal department. Susan L. Kantrowitz, General Counsel, wrote to me that “It is highly unusual for Amex to be in a title and not be one of our shows” and they would “address it on Monday.” Eric Brass, Corporate Counsel, wrote that “the take down request very well may have been an error, but given that it is late on a Friday afternoon in August, I may not be able to get back to you (or YouTube) until Monday.” He then wrote me back and indicated that while perhaps my YouTube account was important, this “particular film” was certainly not. I spoke to him on the phone and he repeated that no harm had been done, but and that after he completed his investigation he would,“follow up with something in writing that might be helpful for you if a question arises down the road about the take down.”
I want to stress that the timing of this takedown was not mine, it was instigated by WGBH and it was done deliberately as a formal legal action. Mr. Brass seemed quite peeved that I was upset, even though I was just minding my own business on the Internet when some hooligans from Boston came over and smacked me for no reason at all, then left for a weekend at the Cape.
The process of creating a copyright strike is not a casual one. WGBH had to go through several screens to identify the video, fill out their contact information, and checked numerous boxes indicating that they understood this was the beginning of a legal process, then signed a statement indicating that all statements were true and that they were in fact the true and correct owners of that film or portions of that film. In order to respond to that legal accusation, I had to go through a similar process of swearing under oath and accepting a court’s jurisdiction for my counter-claim.
Because of all of this, Malamud has suggested that YouTube institute a similar reverse three strikes policy for those who abuse the DMCA takedown process:
I believe that incorrectly posting a video that is under copyright is in fact worthy of a copyright strike. However, I think the opposite of that should be true. WGBH committed a copyright foul and should be prohibited from having the capability to take another user’s films down for a six-month period. If they commit 3 copyright fouls, their account should be revoked. WGBH personnel should be required to go to copyright school so that they fully understand their responsibilities under the law.
Given the blithe and uncaring attitude of WGBH legal staff, they should also be required to undergo copyright school. Their blase attitude was not impressive, and I can just imagine the reaction of WGBH if somebody had improperly taken down one of their media properties would not have been nearly so casual.
The idea of a reverse three strikes policy is not a new one. We first wrote about it back in 2008. Unfortunately, under the current wording of the DMCA, it would be very difficult to do it properly, but it does seem worth considering, considering just how frequency such a power is abused.
It's amazing the kind of trouble that Carl Malamud ends up in thanks to people not understanding copyright law. The latest is that he was alerted to the fact that YouTube had taken down a video that he had uploaded, due to a copyright claim from WGBH, a public television station in Boston. The video had nothing to do with WGBH at all. It's called "Energy -- The American Experience" and was created by the US Dept. of Energy in 1974 and is quite clearly in the public domain as a government creation (and in case you're doubting it, the federal government itself lists the video as "cleared for TV."
WGBH, on the other hand, has nothing whatsoever to do with that video. It appears that some clueless individual at WGBH went hunting for any videos having to do with the PBS show WGBH produces, called American Experience and just assumed that based on the title, the public domain video that Malamud uploaded, was infringing. Because that's the level of "investigation" that apparently the censorious folks at WGBH do when looking to issue takedown notices.
Malamud reached out to WGBH and apparently the folks there were most unhelpful. The station's general counsel refused to apologize and simply told Carl that since "American Experience" was "unusual" to be in the title, it was okay for them to issue a bogus DMCA notice. Another lawyer , Eric Brass, told Malamud that they wouldn't be able to do anything about it until next week.
Thankfully, someone at YouTube found out about all of this and restored the video so you can watch it:
While some may argue this is no big deal because by making noise about this, Malamud was able to get the video reinstated, that's ridiculous. WGBH is a public television station that claims in its mission statement that its "commitments" include:
Foster an informed and active citizenry
Make knowledge and the creative life of the arts, sciences, and humanities available to the widest possible public
Improve, for all people, access to public media
I'm curious how issuing bogus copyright takedowns on public domain material matches with any of those "commitments." Hell, why is such a public television station worried about so-called "copyright infringement" in the first place?
And, as Malamud notes, this little "accident" wasted the time of a bunch of people, and put his own YouTube channel at risk, since it initially counted as a "strike" against him. WGBH owes Malamud not just an apology, but an explanation for why this happened and what the station will do to prevent it from happening again.
YouTube star (among other things) Hank Green recently wrote an interesting post slamming Facebook for the way it treats video makers like himself. He has a few specific complaints, including that Facebook creates major incentives for people to upload videos directly to Facebook rather than just linking/embedding from other platforms (basically Facebook will bury your non-native videos) and that Facebook plays some questionable tricks in determining what counts as a "view" allowing it to claim more video views than YouTube when the truth is probably that it has about 1/5 as many views. But Hank's biggest complaint is that because of the incentives for native views, it's quite common for people to take other people's YouTube videos and upload them to Facebook themselves -- and that Facebook is not very responsive to takedown requests:
According to a recent report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, of the 1000 most popular Facebook videos of Q1 2015, 725 were stolen re-uploads. Just these 725 "freebooted" videos were responsible for around 17 BILLION views last quarter. This is not insignificant, it’s the vast majority of Facebook’s high volume traffic. And no wonder, when embedding a YouTube video on your company’s Facebook page is a sure way to see it die a sudden death, we shouldn’t be surprised when they rip it off YouTube and upload it natively. Facebook’s algorithms encourage this theft.
What is Facebook doing about it?
They’ll take the video down a couple days after you let them know. Y’know, once it’s received 99.9% of the views it will ever receive.
Leaving aside whether or not you think this is a big deal, what's really interesting is the first comment (highlighted by Fred von Lohmann) which suggests Facebook is gearing up to launch its own ContentID-like system. The comment is from Matt Pakes, a Facebook product manager for its video products. He responds to each of Green's complaints, putting a pro-Facebook spin on each of them (though, those responses appear to be a little questionable) and then indicates that the company is getting ready to launch something new, a la ContentID, but made special for Facebook:
Finally, we take intellectual property rights very seriously. We have used the Audible Magic system for years to help prevent unauthorized video content on Facebook. We also provide reporting tools for content owners to report possible copyright infringement. As video continues to grow rapidly 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. This is a significant technical challenge at our scale, but we have a team working on it and expect to have more to share later this summer.
Of course, as Hank pointed out in his original article, the reason why some content creators actually like ContentID isn't so much the fact that you can pull down copied videos, but because it's created a revenue stream for them that goes back to the original creators. It's not at all clear how Facebook could even do that:
But even if they do have a system, it won’t function as well as Content ID. Content ID works so well largely because YouTube is good at monetizing content. So, instead of taking a video down, a copyright holder can claim the video and receive revenue from it. Content ID has claimed millions of videos and is responsible for over a billion dollars in revenue so copyright holders love it. But without a good system of monetization, Facebook can only remove videos, not send big checks to the owners of stolen content. For the copyright holder, interfacing with a profitless system is just a pain in the ass with no upside.
I guess we'll wait and see what comes out of Facebook, but perhaps people are going to start getting used to Facebook's equivalent of the YouTube frowny face for blocked videos.
PS: I noted that Pakes' response seems questionable on multiple levels, but I want to call out one big fat ridiculous claim, concerning why it pushes native uploaded videos much harder than YouTube videos:
With regard to the reach of video posts, the goal of Facebook’s News Feed is to show the right content to the right people at the right time. If you’re the type of person who likes to watch videos, you should be seeing more videos in your News Feed. If you tend to skip over videos, you will likely see less of them. Over years of developing and tuning News Feed, we know that clicking on a link to play video is not a great user experience, so people tend to interact slightly less with non-native video, and the posts get less engagement. Native video posts with auto-play tend to see better engagement, more watch time and higher view counts. It’s a nuanced but important point: native videos often do better than video links, but this is because people tend to prefer watching native videos over clicking on a link and waiting for something to load.
I find this difficult to believe. First, anyone who has used the Facebook video player and the YouTube video player knows that Facebook's video player is terrible. The quality is terrible and the whole experience is annoying. For whatever reason, YouTube's video player just tends to work better than nearly every other alternative (though in some cases Vimeo is nice too). Facebook's just feels clunky. And it's a bit ridiculous to argue that "clicking on a link to play video is not a great user experience." No one seems to have a problem with it elsewhere. And I see plenty of complaints about Facebook's annoying "autoplay" on videos, which would distort this data anyway, since Facebook counts "views" after 3 seconds.