The longer answer: “It’s getting pretty damn good.” It’s been nearly 18 months since Facebook announced it would develop a technology solution similar to YouTube’s ContentID to protect creators and publishers from piracy and freebooting. In April 2016, with the guidance of Jukin Media, Zefr and Fullscreen, Facebook pushed live a solution called Rights Manager as a first step in righting the piracy problem. And over the last few months, I decided to put Rights Manager to the test to see just how well it netted pirated video content.
Since May of last year, I freebooted videos from major creators like Grace Helbig, Shane Dawson and The Fine Brothers as well as Buzzfeed, Fullscreen and JukinMedia. I also tested music videos from Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Tyga. I grabbed videos from YouTube and from Facebook, and uploaded the pirated videos into VideoInk’s Facebook page. To make it even more likely to get caught, I made sure the titles and tags were consistent with original video titles and company or creator tags.
The outcome — only music videos were instantly flagged and taken down for rights violations; or so I thought. On the backend of Facebook, video rights holders, like Jukin or Fullscreen, are seeing thousands of videos a day that are pirated and caught by Rights Manager. Of those thousands, Rights Manager ranks them based on the publisher’s custom rules to see what’s potentially of most importance to the rights holder. For instance, an influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers would be of higher importance for the rights holder to claim, than a single individual in Kansas; or a publisher may set a rule that permit use in certain cases but not in others.
[UPDATE: Facebook uses AudibleMagic as its music fingerprinting technology, which automatically flags music-related IP. The Video Rights Manager is a custom product built and evolving via Facebook’s internal engineers.]
“We introduced Rights Manager in April to help publishers and creators manage and protect their video content on Facebook at scale. Since launch, all kinds of publishers have used the tool to find matches of their content on Facebook. Rights Manager allows publishers to determine whether or not they would like the video to remain on Facebook, giving them control and flexibility,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement to VideoInk.
This might be one explanation for why videos freebooted are not instantly flagged as they are with YouTube’s ContentID system, which has received its own negative heat over the last few years.
“We’re pleased with the progress that Facebook has made regarding rights management, as the platform currently catches thousands of video matches per day. Its capabilities continue to expand over time, and we’ve been pleased with how our feedback to improve the tool has been considered and often implemented,” a Jukin spokesperson told VideoInk via email.
And according to various other media companies using the product, they are pleased as well with the first iteration. One executive noted that the biggest hurdle is that the product is still largely manual, even more so than YouTube’s ContentID system.
“We are listening to feedback from publishers and our community, and will continue to improve Rights Manager based on that feedback,” added Facebook’s spokesperson.