Looks Like Facebook Won’t Be Ripping Down Music Videos Forever

Facebook eats videos
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Facebook eats videos
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photo: comundo (CC0)

YouTube is a great place to develop your music career through cover videos.  Facebook is a great place if you want those videos ripped down.  Now, all of that is about to change.

Want to practice your chops and develop an audience by singing cover songs?  Then the first step is to absolutely, positively not publish those videos on Facebook.

The reason?  Facebook routinely rips music videos down, because they don’t have the rights to them.

Warning: Universal Music Is Ripping Down ALL Facebook Cover Videos

In fact, most of the time we cover Facebook, it’s about disastrous tear-downs and girls crying with a guitar in their hands.  You see, these young musicians have no idea what a ‘performance license’ is.  Much less the perplexing rat’s nest of other overlapping rights.  But they do know that Facebook has shut down their accounts and given them a big black mark.

All for reasons they don’t quite understand.

Enter Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), the largest music publisher in the world.  They blame Facebook for not getting their rights together to properly cover their music.  And they’ve been actively ripping these videos down while getting booed as the bad guy.

Blame whomever you want.  But like most out-in-the-open fights like these, everybody looks bad.  Especially the artists caught in the middle.

Like Ed Sheeran, who was recently dragged into this fight.  The reason?  Sheeran fans are covering his songs, uploading them to Facebook, and then getting them ripped down.  Then, they blame the whole thing on Sheeran, because they think he’s the boogeyman who doesn’t want anyone singing his songs.  Which is why Sheeran has taken the initiative to apologize to fans for the actions of his label group.

That’s right: Sheeran has had to mediate between Facebook and a global mega-publisher to save his image.  Not bad for a guy who also sings and strums the guitar.

What a f—kin’ mess!  But wait: why doesn’t Facebook get the proper rights?

Now, it looks like they’re doing exactly that.  Earlier this week, ‘the social network’ finalized its acquisition of Source3.  The deal is all about recognizing intellectual property, then doing something about it.  So, if that ‘something’ is monetizing the content or IP, then that’s what happens.  If it means blocking it, then it gets blocked — not ripped down two days later by a Medieval wrecking crew.

Source3 was started by the same guys that started another rights-focused company, Rightsflow.  That was acquired by Google back in 2011, and deployed heavily within YouTube.  It’s not the only component of YouTube’s rights-management system, but we’re guessing it plays a significant role.  Just like Source3 appears to be a major component in the IP-protection infrastructure being constructed by Facebook.

Long story short: music IP is ID’d.  Then protected and/or monetized.   And the wheels turn a little faster on ‘Facebook Music’.

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Actually, Source3 goes far beyond music.  It can also identify IP tied to consumer brands, sports franchises, or similar assets.  Sometimes, the owner of that IP just wants to track its impact within the user-generated sphere.  In other cases, there may be a monetization play.

All of which sounds similar to YouTube’s ContentID, with added features that include brand tracking.  Meanwhile, Facebook gets a better grip on what IP is floating around their platform, while using that information to forge better relationships with major brands and content owners.

Actually, Facebook has already started something similar to ContentID.  It’s called the ‘Rights Manager’.  But a full, robust rights ID and management system may still be under construction.  Last year, Rights Manager appeared to be a stopgap against ‘freebooting,’ which refers to the reposting of YouTube videos on Facebook.

Blocking is important.  But keeping something alive to monetize it is where the real fun begins.

Meanwhile, we’re noticing that Facebook is still hiring and beefing out its music initiative.  That includes active requisitions and recently-hired guns like ex-YouTuber Tamara Hrivnak, who will head music strategy at the platform.  We’re certain to hear of newly-hired music executives in the coming weeks and months, with Source3 likely ‘acqui-hired’ to manage rights aspects.

All of which means that user-generated cover videos may soon be supported, not removed.

Which also means that Facebook can finally start copying the successes of YouTube, and supporting budding music careers.  And, create a serious, sustainable revenue stream for performers and content owners alike.