New Media Mondays: Don’t Share Stolen Videos

UPDATE: Since posting this blog, I have found an excellent video from Destin at Smarter Every Day that explains this injustice even further. He calls it “Freebooting.”

new media mondays - valentina veeFacebook is like the Walmart of the Internet. Everybody uses it, information is easily accessible, and nobody wants to check their sources. Apart from YouTube, Facebook is the only large-scale platform that lets users upload long-form videos to their pages and accounts. And many large fan pages (particularly radio and local news stations) take advantage of the loose restrictions Facebook places on uploaded videos.

The problem is: they upload videos that aren’t theirs.

This happens every day on my Newsfeed. Somebody will use Facebook’s native “share” tool to pass along a funny video they saw on their own newsfeed – usually one that has been shared by someone else. More often than not, these videos are stolen.

“Like-aggregator” Facebook pages are those built specifically to collect “likes.” The more likes and views a page has, the sweeter it looks to advertisers who essentially pay popular pages to promote their products. But in-between these promotions, pages tend to do a lot of re-uploading.

What this means is that they will find a video on YouTube that is funny or insightful. They will download it. And then they will re-upload it to their page, for their thousands (and sometimes millions) of “likers.” As a result, the Facebook-re-uploaded version gets millions of views and shares while the original YouTube creator gets nothing. Even if some pages credit the original creator (perhaps with a mention in the description), that creator sees none of the profit or views from the re-upload. And in a world where views = status, this is deplorable.

The problem is threefold. First, Facebook fails to recognize that the uploaded video is stolen. Second, people who share the video have no idea that it is uploaded directly to an unrelated Facebook page (not simply linked to the original YouTube video). Thirdly, Facebook’s own content-flagging tools make it impossible for someone to report a wrongfully-uploaded video (unless it is their own video being stolen).

If you think this is a micro problem, you couldn’t be more wrong. This happens to millions of videos every day. Billions of views, comments, and shares that could have gone to the original creators go instead to people who re-upload the content of others. These views matter. These views mean the difference between continuing to make video blogs in your kitchen and getting international sponsorships. These views prohibit creative people and hard-working companies from getting the recognition they deserve. Please, be careful and check what you post.

Here are a few examples from my newsfeed this past week:

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A music artist named “VISUAL” (who has 10K likes) uploaded this video to his Facebook page. The original creator is named Laci Green, who hosts a show called Sex+ on YouTube, where she creatively and informatively teaches about sexual education.

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A radio station re-uploaded a JC Penney ad and got over 36 million views on their re-upload.

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A “Like-aggregator” page called Southern Boyz Outdoors re-uploaded a video from popular Canadian YouTube channel “Just for Laughs” and it now has over 9 million views.

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