Destin Sandlin, operator of the Smarter Every Day YouTube channel, is becoming one of the faces of the fight against "freebooting", the act of pulling videos from YouTube, and placing them in a Facebook post without the owner's approval.
Sandlin receives advertising revenue for his popular videos, which help fund future episodes and his children's college funds. While Sandlin's YouTube channel has three million subscribers, he could potentially have more viewers and subscribers if other entities didn't freeboot his material. This is causing Sandlin and other YouTube channel operators to not only lose money, but also allow Facebook to profit off his intellectual property.
Sandlin says he noticed a freebooting incident earlier this month, involving his July 31 video on kangaroo pouches.
"Somebody took the video off of YouTube, cut out the advertisement and then uploaded it to Facebook with just the parts they were interested in and then Facebook was running Juicy Fruit ads on the side of my video that had been cut," says Sandlin, who responded to a tweet notifying him of the situation.
— Smarter Every Day (@smartereveryday) August 3, 2015
Sandlin says it takes him ten minutes to file the proper paperwork notifying the social media giant about copyright infringement. In one Smarter Every Day episode, he explains Facebook freebooting in-depth.
Sandlin says the longer it takes Facebook to remove freebooted videos, the more money it makes. Tech Alabama reached out to Facebook for a comment, and a spokesperson offered this statement:
"We take intellectual property rights very seriously. This is not new to Facebook. We have a number of measures in place to address potential infringements on our service. For years we've used the Audible Magic system to help prevent unauthorized video content. We also have reporting tools in place to allow content owners to report potential copyright infringement, and upon receiving a valid notice we remove unauthorized content. We also suspend accounts of people with repeated IP (intellectual property) violations when appropriate.
"As video continues to grow on Facebook, we're actively exploring further solutions to help IP owners identify and manage potential infringing content, tailored for our unique platform and ecosystem.
"This is a significant technical challenge to solve, but we have a team working on it and expect to have more to share this summer. As with all products and experiences on Facebook, we're listening to feedback, and want to continue to improve our content management tools for people and publishers."
Sandlin calls this response "lip service", and he believes Facebook should make a stronger effort finding a sound solution to the freebooting problem.
"We're talking about the people who made facial recognition software here," Sandlin remarks, "So for them to say that this is a serious technical challenge for them, is comical."
Sandlin is becoming a national figure in the fight against freebooting. He has voiced his opinions in various online publications including Slate and Medium. While he stands to financially benefit from effective freebooting reforms, Sandlin says he is speaking out for not just himself, but also current and future YouTube channel operators.
"I don't want to fight Facebook. I don't want to fight anybody," says Sandlin, "The only reason I'm doing this is because there's a lot of other people that don't have an online voice so it's important for someone who can speak to speak for those who can't."