Facebook's 'Freebooting' Piracy Problem Just Cost Casey Neistat 20 Million Views


Casey Neistat, who has 1.5 million YouTube subscribers, recently created a fun Halloween video called "Aladdin in Real Life" with his friend, Jesse Wellens, and they quickly garnered more than 10 million views. The two-minute clip took weeks to complete, as the duo spent significant cash on costumes and orchestrated a high-tech video shoot while interloping through the busy daytime streets of Manhattan, N.Y.

But then they ran into a problem known as "freebooting," which entails republishing videos on social sites without the consent of the folks who made the clips. In essence, it's a practice of intellectual-property theft that's plagued Facebook more than other digital platforms—PR-wise, at least—in recent months thanks to a few whistle-blowers.

"I spent roughly a week issuing take downs on Facebook—a convoluted process," Neistat told Adweek. "I crowdsourced the process of finding the freebooters because there is no way to search Facebook. In all, I took down well over 50 different posts—[which was] not nearly all of them. I simply gave up after a while. I anecdotally kept track of the view counts—over 20 million views on the videos I took down."

That costs Neistat part of his livelihood. "This is in every sense a job, and each video is an investment wherein success—viewership—we will see a return," he said.

Facebook drew criticism this summer from content creators for not doing enough to combat freebooting. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech giant responded in August with a blog postacknowledging the problem while stating that it had some tools—which Neistat alluded to with criticism—for preventing it. The company stated then that it is developing new programs for sussing out video thieves, though the timeline for such a release hasn't been disclosed.

The controversy received an autumnal reboot on Tuesday, when YouTube channel Kurzgesagt (which translates from German to "In a Nutshell") got into the mix. Kurzgesagt periodically publishes videos that attempt to explain a complex subject in five minutes, and it's attracted 1.4 million YouTube subscribers in the past couple of years while occasionally covering tech (last week's edition was called "What Is Light?").

This week's submission, dubbed "How Facebook is Stealing Billions of Views," drew 1.2 million YouTube views by Thursday morning and more than 4,500 comments. The piece accuses Facebook of turning a blind eye to the freebooting epidemic in order to draw views and ad impressions for its own financial gain—at the cost of content creators.

[By Christopher Heine] [Read More] [Image from Tube Filter]

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