Facebook the Massive Infringer

There’s a massive infringer hiding in plain sight.  That’s a tactic that worked from the Case of the Purloined Letter to Osama Bin Laden–worked for a while, anyway.

So who is this massive infringer?  Pirate Bay?  mp3skull?  YouTube-mp3?  No–it’s Facebook.  That’s right.  Facebook, the property that every band is told they must be on, the property to which the entire global music industry drives millions of fans every minute of every day, the property that live streams music as a business line–isn’t licensed and is hiding behind the DMCA.

The dilemma that Facebook has created is one based on bait and switch.  First, they invite artists into the platform with the promise that being on Facebook will open up new vistas of audience engagement with the implication of untold riches.

What Facebook don’t tell artists is that Facebook intends to get that music for free and also datamine the artist’s fans, sell the artist’s name as an advertising keyword, and generally do everything Facebook can to capture the fan.  Even if the fan was already on Facebook, the music increases the fans engagement with the platform.

Unlike Amazon and Google, music isn’t even a loss leader to get consumers to buy other stuff.  For all their problems, Amazon and Google do get at least some licenses and do pay royalties.  Facebook won’t even pay the pathetically low royalties that these two massive Wal Mart level commoditizers pay, and Facebook doesn’t even recognize the rights of the very artists and songwriters whose names they sell out the back door for advertising keywords.

The other part of the dilemma is that Facebook can help artists reach an audience, assuming the artist broke the cardinal rule of marketing–don’t get dependent on these online platforms because when the switch comes, you’ll be trapped.  Don’t have your only or even primary online presence be Facebook, because Facebook will own your fans.

This isn’t to say that Facebook doesn’t provide a valuable service, it does.  But Facebook needs to properly articulate the bargain they want to make.  If the deal is you get access to our platform at no charge and in return we let you pay us to boost your post or other fee based methods of engaging with your fans–but you have to give us your music for free–then say that up front.

There are many artists and especially songwriters who just can’t believe that Facebook pays nothing for music.   And not only doesn’t but refuses to even engage on a negotiation.

This failure makes Facebook one of the biggest infringers.  You would think that the government would be leading the charge against these people, right?

You would think.

obama-dinner

4 thoughts on “Facebook the Massive Infringer

  1. Is that also why Facebook does not let you access all names of the People , i.e. fans, or Likes on business pages? I have a number of them on both my business pages, and I can’t find out who they are. Luckily I have stayed in touch with them otherwise as I grew my fan base, but in spite of forwarding questions to FB re, this I have had no answer. I have a business page I want to cancel, wanted to keep the list, so far has not been possible…

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  2. It’s not clear to me which infringement this is talking about. Unlike YouTube, Facebook doesn’t have a large community of people uploading other people’s music. Almost all the music I see on Facebook is either a link to YouTube or posted by the band themselves.

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    1. Time will tell what the allocation is, but publicly performing songs without a license from the PROs is itself an infringement of the song copyright owner’s public performance right.

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