As Facebook continues to grapple with its role in proliferating "fake news" amidst the heated U.S. election this year, it has another showdown looming on the horizon -- this one with the music industry. In the wake of NMPA president/CEO David Israelite's op-ed in Billboard in October, in which he called out the social media giant for hosting videos with copyrighted music without securing licensing deals or paying creators, Facebook is working to develop a copyright identification system -- similar to YouTube's Content ID -- that would find and remove videos containing copyrighted music, a source tells Billboard. The story was first reported by the Financial Times.
"In a recent snapshot search of 33 of today's top songs, NMPA identified 887 videos using those songs with over 619 million views, which amounts to an average of nearly 700,000 views per video," Israelite wrote in his op-ed, noting that many of the videos are fan-created cover songs -- and that none have been licensed by the publishing industry. "In reality, the scope of the problem is likely much greater because, due to privacy settings on Facebook, it's almost impossible to gauge the true scale."
That scale is important for creators who, in a streaming world, generally get paid on a per-stream basis when their music is properly licensed to services like Spotify or Apple Music, and it adds up quickly. YouTube, despite coming under fire for almost the entire year due to what recording industry trade groups call the value gap and low royalty rates, announced earlier this month that it paid $1 billion to the music industry through advertising alone in 2016 (though one recording industry executive questioned the figure). And from Content ID's launch in 2007 through July 2016, the company claims it has paid $2 billion to copyright owners through that system alone. With some 170 million users in the U.S. alone and 1.79 billion monthly users worldwide, Facebook outstrips even YouTube's billion-plus users in scale.