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Is Facebook The Musicians Friend Or A Massive Infringer?

Is-facebook-evilIn this piece from Artist Rights Watch, Chris Castle dives into what he sees as the evils of Facebook's copyright infringement. After making itself what seems to be a necessary evil for artists, Facebook hides in plain sight while still avoiding proper licensing and evoking the DMCA.  Read on and tell us what you think.

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image from artistrightswatchdotcom.files.wordpress.com

Guest Post by Chris Castle on Artist Rights Watch

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.

"Facebook needs to properly articulate

the bargain they want to make."

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.

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