A Facebook creator reaches millions of views, and Facebook refuses to pay him. Another creator uploads original content but has to go through months of waiting before Facebook acknowledges its originality. As Facebook rages on to mimic TikTok, here’s what happens to creators behind the scenes.
Mike Stallone is a Facebook creator who started posting reels since March 2022. Just after a month, Facebook invited him to the Facebook Reels program to monetize it. However, one day after Mike accepted this offer, his reels button was gone and Facebook slapped his page with a “limited originality of content.”
Facebook uses the limited originality tag if “your Page had no role in creating” or meaningfully adding to the content. Now Mike was faced with utter confusion because all his content was shot and uploaded firsthand.
Since he is already a monetized creator on YouTube and TikTok, he took up the issue with Facebook by appealing the LOC tag. He never heard back from Facebook. I’m writing this in August, which means it has been over 4 months, and Facebook hasn’t answered his appeals. In this time, Stallone has amassed 7 million views, and made nothing off of it.
A tool gone wrong
In April 2016, Facebook launched the Rights Manager. It is a set of tools to “help publishers and creators manage and protect their video content on Facebook at scale.” If you’re a large publisher on Facebook, chances are that you’re already using the tool. However, let’s have a quick look at how it works.
Facebook’s Rights Manager indexes your uploaded videos into a database, creating a unique print for it. So if you’re a Facebook video creator, you can choose what happens if another page or person copies your videos. Your options include taking a portion of the copy’s revenue, taking its entire revenue, requesting a takedown, and so forth.
Sounds great in theory, but here’s one story that says otherwise.
Loss of rights.
Hashem Al-Ghaili is a science communicator and one of the largest content creators on Facebook. His page has 33 million followers, and he has been battling the perils of Rights Manager for about two years now. His issue is one that almost every Facebook video creator is facing, but the platform has been unable to fix it so far.
When you upload a video to Facebook, the Rights Manager lets you register its contents. So, for instance, if a creator uploads a video that is 90% original footage and 10% stock footage from the internet, the Rights Manager will recognize all of it as original content. This spells trouble for all the other creators who license the same stock footage and use it on Facebook.
After registering the video once, it’ll flag any other creator’s videos that use the same footage. If your video is flagged, your revenue is put on hold, and it even endangers your page.
Loss of time.
You can appeal the copyright notice, but from Mike Stallone’s case, it is amply clear that Facebook doesn’t listen. But the Rights Manager brings miscreants into the mix. There are shady pages that use their Rights Manager access to copyright stock footage and jeopardize everyone else’s hard work.
The issues deepen between Facebook alerting you, letting you raise a dispute, and resolving it. In the meantime, your revenue can go on hold for anywhere between 7 to 90 days. We’re speaking from experience here.
Similar to Hashem Al-Ghaili, we’ve been spending hours fending off automated strikes on our Facebook page. All we can do is raise a dispute, wait 90 days, then another two weeks before Facebook resolves it. There are even times when Facebook issues an alert, and all we can do is look at it because there is no way to counter an alert.
There are publishers that wrongfully copyright stock footage and delay dispute resolution to demoralize other creators. And sometimes, abusive publishers can claim an honest publisher’s revenue just because the system isn’t comprehensive enough.
Small businesses and creators are the worst hit
While bigger publications and pages have dedicated teams to combat these copyright issues, smaller content creators are the worst hit. Here in India, there are many creators that upload original videos, and have amassed an audience but simply don’t have the technical know-how to fend off abusive use of Rights Manager.
The miscreants use the original creator’s lack of knowledge to leech onto their videos and take a slice of their income. And if that’s not enough, delays and false alarms can cause budding creators to spend more time on the Creator Studio dashboard than creating actual content, which is sad.
Facebook knows the issue
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is well aware of the problem with the Rights Manager. The cracks go deep enough that it is tweaking the tool every now and then. However, the continuous tweak in parameters and delays on Facebook’s end are causing confusion among creators.
Facebook’s continuous tinkering with its tools also shows a hit-and-miss approach, which is hurting creators. The company arbitrarily revokes creator’s access to the Rights Manager, which makes things worse because copyrighting your work becomes an even more difficult process.
Moreover, Facebook is being sued by Epidemic Sounds because the Rights Manager has declared Epidemic Sound’s licensed music as ‘original music.’ This story from our end is to shine a light on the extent of the Rights Manager problem.
We, as video creators, are personally facing it, and we can relate to the plight of our fellow creators. Facebook needs to act fast and get a more comprehensive system in place to reduce its misuse. We know it cannot be immediately eradicated, seeing the volume of videos, but Facebook could surely do better.
Rest assured, it’d also mean a lot if you share this story with the creators you know and help them become aware of this issue. And if you’re a creator, I urge you to connect with us and share your experience with the Rights Manager or any other issues you’re facing on Facebook.