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Ethan Klein #Video Theft Adds Fuel to #Facebook's #Freebooting Controversy

Ethan and Hila - YouTube
Over the past few months, Facebook have been very vocal, arrogant, even, about how well their dedicated video service has been doing. The biggest number they've been trotting out is 8 billion views per day, which would almost be enough to give YouTube pause for thought, if it was actually legit.


As many have pointed out, most notably In a Nutshell (see above), those figures have been, to put it midly, massaged, with the presence of auto-play on the site being factored in to bump them up, as well as anything over 3 seconds being counted as a full view, even on mute. The bigger, more nascent issue is intellectual property theft, though, or in this instance - 'freebooting'.

Basically, if someone lifts a video from YouTube, Vine or Vimeo and puts it on Facebook's dedicated player, Facebook's algorithms will do more to support it, because they prefer their own player, meaning that the thief will do far better for likes and sharing figures than the actual owner of the content. The other issue is that the thefts are difficult to prove, since you can't actively seek out the stolen content, and even if you do, the actual emailing appeal process is draconian. By the time it all goes through, the thief has reaped basically all the benefits and gets away scott free.

Following the immense build up of criticism, Facebook did pledge to tighten their copyright policy with the introduction of Audible Magic, which allegedly uses a 'digital fingerprint' system to ferret out lifted content during the upload process. Repeat offenders get blocked from posting anything ever again.

That's all well and good, but recently another theft incident involving YouTuber Ethan Klein made Facebook look even worse. How? Well after a video from his 'Ethan and Hila' channel was lifted, he contacted Facebook to report it, as per usual, but the response he got stated that "we don't see how the content you've reported, used in this context, violates your rights and we are not in a position to take action".

Naturally, Ethan was pretty dissatisfied with that answer, so he responded, asserting that his content had been lifted and that it was a clear violation. Facebook replied as such: "For the reason we previously described, we are not in a position to act on your report. If you have not already done so, you may wish to reach out to the party responsible for posting the content to resolve your issue with them directly."

Of course, while Facebook were saying they couldn't do anything, the stolen views continued to climb. All they had done was suggest that Ethan should politely ask the person who stole his content to kindly remove it, which effectively means hoping that you can appeal to the moral fiber of a thief. The content did finally vanish, but only after Business Insider confronted Facebook about the issue.

It would have been bad enough if Ethan's video had simply made it through the new system unscathed, but for Facebook to initially refuse to do anything about it is even worse. Facebook are going to have to start taking this a bit more seriously if they really want to take full advantage of video ad revenue, otherwise they could find themselves walking headfirst into a major lawsuit.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Ethan Klein #Video Theft Adds Fuel to #Facebook's #Freebooting Controversy Reviewed by Callum Davies on Sunday, December 20, 2015 Rating: 5

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