Facebook has reportedly reached out to the major music labels with an offer to pay for the music people are using in the videos they’re increasingly uploading to the network, videos which often feature music they haven’t cleared the licensing for. Video is, of course, incredibly important to Facebook these days and it doesn’t want to either stop people from sharing or wait the years necessary to develop a copyright identification system that would designate royalties to be paid.
In other words, Facebook is paying off record labels because it’s too hard for everyone to go after the end user and too costly, both in terms of time and dollars, to educate people on copyright law and what does or doesn’t constitute fair usage.
This might seem like a nice, elegant solution for Facebook, which certainly has the money to make this kind of offer. It’s essentially covering for its ignorant user base so no one gets sued, just as YouTube has done.
There’s only one problem: Just like every other company, Facebook doesn’t like to spend money. So it’s going to look for ways to recoup what’s sure to be a significant expense given the licensing battles fought by YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and others. And how does Facebook make money? Advertising.
That’s right, the advertising that already not only already intrudes on the Facebook experience – made worse by the introduction of full-sound autoplay video – and follows you around the rest of the web via its Audience Network will become more intrusive. That’s doubly so because ad revenue is expected to fall in coming quarters, which will put pressure on the company to increase their efforts in one of two ways: Frequency or depth.
Nothing comes for free in this world, and that’s especially true when dealing with Facebook or other social networks. Facebook paying labels for music rights is just another way of putting the end user deeper in hoc, a debt it pays off by selling more ads based on increasingly-detailed insights into how they are, where they go and what they like.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.