Commentary

UPDATE: Is Facebook Ripping Off YouTube's Video?

This nastiness between Facebook and YouTube is getting interesting. 

Two high profile articles, one on Slate,  the other from Mashable, details how some Facebook users are downloading YouTube videos, stripping out the most identifiable aspects, and reposting them on their NewsFeed.

“Are plagiarized YouTube videos help fueling fuel [Facebook’s] astonishing video growth?” asks Slate's subhead.

The practice is called “freebooting” and it’s catching on because as Slate’s Will Oremus points out, Facebook doesn’t treat the ordinary, legit downloaded-from-YouTube video the same way it does a supposedly fresh video (even if that’s a mickied-with YouTube video), but without the YouTube ad or other identifiers.

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The real YouTube video, downloaded the way it’s supposed to be, might not get played at all. Oremus explains:

“... Facebook has built its own video platform and given it a decisive home-field advantage in the NewsFeed. Share a YouTube video on Facebook, and it will appear in your friends’ feeds as a small, static preview image with a “play” button on it—that is, if it appears in your friends’ NewsFeeds at all. ...But take that same video and upload it directly to Facebook, and it will appear in your friends’ feeds as a full-size video that starts playing automatically as they scroll past it...

"Oh, and it will appear in a lot of your friends’ feeds. Anecdotal evidence—and guidance from Facebook itself —suggests native videos perform orders of magnitude better on Facebook than those shared from other platforms.”

He says that Facebook posters have no reason to cut YouTube out of the purloined video it’s posting, but that the un-YouTubed video will get better display on Facebook and the poster will get more likes and subscribers, and ultimately, more engagement.

Well known is that videos watched on Facebook have jumped from 1 billion a day last September to 4 billion a day. Correspondingly, Slate says one in four videos on Facebook were natively placed in February of 2014. Slate points to a Fortune story that says as of February, 70% are.

The articles on Slate and Mashable both focus on Destin Sandlin, whose YouTube channel, Smarter Every Day, has been pilfered by a British lad magazine’s site, Zoo It ripped off one of his videos, stripped him out of it and reposted it. That version has millions of views on Facebook.

But Mashable says one of the biggest offenders is the singer Tyrese Gibson, who Mashable, and the Verge previously reported rips YouTube regularly without attribution, or dues being paid, to so speak.

Of course, YouTube itself is no stranger to copyright violations, more in the past then now. Facebook tells Mashable, in as many words, that it tries to watch for the same on its site. The question might be how hard it is really trying.  

NETFLIX VERSUS THE KNOWN WORLD: A rising tide lifts all ships, that’s what they say. Or at least, it doesn’t sink them. An interesting snippet of info from TDG Research, hyping a new report, Netflix Streamers - A Consumer Snapshot, says that, so far the presence of Netflix doesn’t have much of an effect on subscriptions to “legacy” pay services like cable or satellite.

On the flip side: A lot of those legacy subscribers have now added Netflix to their viewing menu (and budget) over the last three years..  

In the last three years, the use of those legacy services among Netflix users has dipped only three points, from 87% to 84%, statistically small enough that it amounts to nothing much. At the same time, use of Netflix by cable (etc.) subscribers has gained from 36% in 2012 to 49% right now. (Other pay-pers might be taking it on the chin. The wily Netflix subscriber apparently is a lot less likely to utilize a personal video recorder, or subscribe to a pay-sports service or use pay-per-view, this report says.)

Of course, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. I cite nothing but vibes I read in between the commas of the media reporting about  media, but it seems that the schedule of must-pay-attention-to content is being cut a little by viewers  just to preserve some sanity.

NOTE: An earlier version of this item supposed TDG was comparing Netflix use to users of HBO or Showtime pay movie services, not, more broadly, cable and satellite subscribers. It's been corrected in this version.

pj@mediapost.com

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