Social Media

Facebook Live Is The Newest Front In The War Against Piracy

Services such as Facebook Live are being used to stream copyrighted content

Social Media
Jun 30, 2016 at 6:12 PM ET

It’s never been easier for Pixar fans to find their favorite animated fish for free. “Finding Dory,” the sequel to 2003’s “Nemo” came out on June 17, and is already quite easy to find (illegally). Alongside the reliable online indexes for pirated videos, like the torrent mega library Pirate Bay and streaming site Solar, live-streaming newcomers like Facebook Live, Periscope, and Meerkat have become another front in the war against piracy.

Just over a week after its release in the United States, a Facebook Live stream of “Finding Dory” garnered 1.2 million views and was shared almost 107,000 times in the 24 hours it was online. “Anyone who wants to watch Finding Dory or let their little ones watch it if they’re too young for the theatre, here it is,” the woman who posted the stream wrote. Other Facebook users watching the movie commented on the copy’s “decent” quality—surprising considering it was likely shot using a smartphone.

Outside of Pixar Studio’s lush undersea world, other Facebook users have recently used Live to broadcast European Championship soccer matches such as Spain vs. Italy in close to real time. Last year, HBO sent takedown notices to Periscope and warned the Twitter-owned company to monitor for potential pirate streams of its programs.

This is part of the complexity of universally available livestreaming: While new services like Facebook Live have helped usher in rapidly a new era of open and socialized broadcasting—viewers can monitor important news events on the ground as they unfold, engage in cooking classes, or, you know, watch a professional joint roller construct something called a “taco joint”—the world has in turn witnessed the technology’s very public growing pains. In addition to copyrighted content being streamed illegally, Facebook Live has in the past demonstrated its inability to properly block the broadcast of acts of terrorism and murder. Periscope, meanwhile, gained widespread notoriety after a woman in France livestreamed her own suicide.

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While Facebook acknowledges the unique challenges that come with livestreaming content, the company says it is working to perfect the way it tracks potentially pirated material. “We take copyright very seriously, and are continuing to improve how we keep infringing content off Facebook,” a spokesperson told Vocativ in an email. “We ask our community to respect copyright, and we use a combination of processing reports from our community and automated matching technology to help us identify and remove infringing content as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Right now, however, the threat these livestreaming platforms present seem minimal, likely due to the quality in which they’re streamed. People still prefer to go to the cinema or watch on a television: “Finding Dory” set a record for the highest opening weekend for an animated film, and having netted $423.1 million worldwide already, the movie looks as if it will be the year’s highest earner by the end of this month. Additionally, Spain’s Telecinco television network hit a ratings high with its Spain-Italy match coverage, while Italy records close to 20 million viewers per match when its side is playing. Only time will tell if these apps become a serious concern for copyright owners.