As if its fake news, data breach, or election meddling problems weren’t enough, Facebook now has one more thing to worry about: movie piracy.
Hundreds of millions of Facebook users use the platform’s Groups feature to connect and discuss with like-minded people, and organise around a number of interests and causes. But others, as reported recently by Business Insider, have been using Facebook Groups to share pirated copies of movies with tens and even hundreds of thousands of group members. Most of them are totally open and make no attempt to hide what their activities and many have been doing so for years.
Anyone can easily search for and find them on the platform. Not just links to illegal copies… Many simply upload the full movies themselves, on the platform. Sure, this is the Internet, and piracy has been around for many years. But surely, Facebook can stop it, right? Well, the worst part is that Facebook seems uncharacteristically unprepared to deal with it, telling Business Insider that it’s the content rights holder’s responsibility to report the content in the first place.
Facebook’s Rights Manager tool helps copyright owners stop their content from being spread around the platform, but it’s not doing a great job of it. Facebook knows that it can simply pass the responsibility to the movie studios, as it can just say it doesn’t know about it. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes Facebook liable only if it knows about a copyright infringement and doesn’t do anything about it.
And unless the movie studios figure out a way to make Facebook liable for this, it is unlikely to budge. In any case, Facebook has built tools that are being used for all kinds of illegal or questionable activities, and it’s really been engaged in trying to sort this out lately. Movie piracy may soon be another that it cannot ignore.