“YouTube isn’t like it used to be.” That’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot from old school YouTube creators and fans, but even in today’s freewheeling world of online video entertainment there are still things that can surprise us. Over the years YouTube has evolved, so the official story goes, from a passionate creative hobby for some into an equally passionate creative business with a growing professional industry behind it. This is true, and while for many, this transformation has been nothing short of miraculous, it has brought with it a fair share of problems. Anywhere that someone is working hard to earn a profit, as many creators do, there will be someone looking for an easy path to reach that some goal. For some of those individuals that path is Freebooting.
Freebooting is the process of stealing someone else’s creative content on a social media platform like YouTube, and passing it off as your own on another. Less akin to plagiarism than to outright theft, it’s a growing problem faced by the professional creator community. Facebook, itself an emerging video platform, is often the destination of choice for freebooters. A video uploaded by an independent creator to YouTube can easily be ripped and uploaded to Facebook without the creator’s consent. At present Facebook doesn’t offer the same kind of monetization options as YouTube, but the freebooter does benefit from the positive interactions, publicity, and shares generated by the stolen content.
YouTube Creator Brad Burke of SwankyBox Created A Video to Explaining The Impact of Freebooting On The Creator Community.
For all of the ways that YouTube, and the internet at large, have grown to support creators and allow them to earn a living, few safeguards have been created to prevent the theft of other’s work. YouTube’s content ID system automatically flags content that has been uploaded before and gives creators options ranging from taking down a stolen video to simply monetizing the stolen copy, depriving the thief of any potential revenue it generates. However, similar options don’t exist across platforms. A creator whose video has been uploaded on another network, like Facebook of Vimeo, would have a much more difficult time proving ownership. It’s another problem against which digital content creators must be vigilant.
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