Can YouTubers Protect Themselves From Freebooting? Four Ways To Fight Back

Headlines have been screaming about the rise of Facebook video for months. The media is obsessed with the impact Facebook’s emerging video platform will have on YouTube, the current king of video sharing. Less talked about is the impact that Facebook’s widening video footprint will have on YouTubers many of whom are already struggling with the growing problem of freebooting.

Freebooting, for the unitiated, is the process of ripping a video from YouTube and reposting it to another network, like Facebook, without attribution. The theft of content is a serious problem and it’s costing YouTubers views, likes, and ultimately, money.

As video views on Facebook continue to climb everyone from content creators to social media managers are desperate for video content to share on their Facebook page. For some, finding that content is easy. All they need to do is log onto YouTube, find the latest viral hit, and upload it as their own. Then they can enjoy a shower of sweet Facebook likes and watch their social footprint grow. As of now, there’s not a lot that YouTube creators can do to prevent this. Facebook doesn’t offer the same sort of content ID systems and protections that YouTube does. However, there are a few steps creators can take to fight back.

How to Fight It


Report It: You can report a video like any other Facebook post. Simply click the arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post and select “Report Post” from the drop down. You’ll be presented with a series of options, none of which really fit your situation. Your best bet is to pick “I Think It Shouldn’t Be On Facebook” as your reason for reporting, then when Facebook asks for more information click “Something else” and describe your situation in the comment box provided. Be warned, this may not get you any action since Facebook has no easy way to verify your claim, but it does get the ball rolling.

Claim It: Facebook has a standing process by which you can claim copyrighted material. Under the report function, select “Copyright” instead of “Other” and Facebook will follow up with a series of questions about the copyrighted content. This step is a little more serious. You’ll need to provide your mailing address and information about the content you have claimed, and you’ll also be asked to certify that all the information you provided is correct under penalty of law. This is mostly a formality to scare away troublemakers, but be sure that you actually do own your video before you go down this road.

File A Complaint: As a content creator, you have the right to file a formal copyright complaint under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. You can find DMCA copyright claim forms online and mail a completed and signed copy to Facebook if you want to take things to the next level. The process may be slower but Facebook is required to respond after investigating your claim.

How To Prevent It


At the present time there isn’t much content creators can do to prevent freebooting in the first place. The growth of Facebook’s video platform has made it a more popular option than ever, and Facebook doesn’t have any real incentive to help you. After all, the person who uploads your video is getting the likes, but it’s Facebook that’s profiting directly by selling ads against it.

Of course, Facebook does provide a built-in solution. If you want to protect yourself against freebooting, or at least expedite your claim if it does happen to you, your best option might be to beat thieves to the punch by uploading your content to Facebook first. Even if you don’t make the video public, it’ll be hard for Facebook to deny your copyright claim against potential freebooters if you’re video was already on the site.

Facebook’s video platform is growing in popularity due in large part to its algorithms which help target videos to people who are likely to enjoy them. Unfortuantely, there’s currently no way for creators to earn money off those views the way they do on YouTube. However, placing your content on Facebook first is a smart insurance policy against future thieves.

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