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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Live Streaming DJ Sets On Facebook Live: Copyright Issues?


Written by Dan White — 2016 has brought a mass popularity to live streaming video on the web. In the DJ world, this has meant even more opportunities to play in front of a digital audience. However, many DJs have encountered resistance due to copyright issues. In this article, we take a closer look at how copyright law plays (or doesn’t play) a role in live streaming DJ sets on Facebook Live.

DJ Streaming Legalities + Music Rights

Let’s talk real quickly about copyright and DJ sets. It’s easy to assume that because you own a song, you’re allowed to play it in a DJ set of any type. According to US copyright law, this is incorrect. There are several types of rights for music, including:
  • Public Performance (transmitting or performing the work in public)
  • Reproduction (copying/duplicating)
  • Digital Performance (internet streaming)
When you DJ in a venue, it’s up to that venue to make sure they have a license for public performance from major rights organizations. In the United States, the most common ones are ASCAP and BMI. Having that license means that DJs can play recorded music registered with those organizations, bands can cover songs, etc.

This works the same way for radio stations – but their license is for broadcast. This means that they are authorized to play music into public airwaves.

Many streaming services do not have a clear relationship with rights organizations. When you fire up a live stream and start broadcasting the hottest tracks to the internet, this is very similar to a radio station. Theoretically, anyone can tune in and hear you playing copy written music.

This is where copyright law starts to fall behind: DJ sets are not a protected form of free speech, and they generally do not fall under “fair use”. As a result, copyright takedowns do happen on various sites. Read on to learn what we know about the current state of copyright takedowns on various streaming sites:

Facebook Live

Facebook is largely credited with the mass distribution of streaming tools by building in Facebook Live into every account on their site. Mobile support meant that most smart phone users now have a perfectly capable streaming device in their pocket.

Is There Copyright Detection On Facebook?

Unlike other sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, Facebook for a while did not appear to have a system for detecting copy written work inside of a video. YouTube’s prominent “ContentID” allows rights-holders to aggressively look for infringing works and issue automatic takedown notices.

In the last few weeks, a few occasional notices have started popping up for users saying that their stream has been flagged for copyright automatically – which may be a slow implementation of a new copyright detection system. It doesn’t stop the stream, but may impact how the video recording can be used after it is finished.

Is Live Streaming DJ Sets On Facebook Legal?

As far as we know, Facebook Live doesn’t have any streaming audio licenses with rights organizations like BMI or ASCAP. It’s very similar to the early days of YouTube – video is a massively growing part of Facebook, so many people suspect the company is doing everything possible to not have to address the issue and potentially hamper growth.

That being said, just because there isn’t a way to detect infringing works doesn’t make streaming legal. If a label holding the rights to a song somehow saw you using their songs in a stream, and really wanted to take legal action against you, they would have sufficient grounds to start a case.

Remember, DJ Techtools is not a legal advisor – so even though we can say it’s unlikely that DJs will start getting sued for mixing on Facebook Live, it’s not a guarantee.

Have There Been Takedowns of Facebook Live DJ Streams?

Based on our research, not significantly – yet. We’ve heard scattered reports of DJs experiencing copyright-based takedowns, but because of the apparent lack of an automatic engine to detect infringement, they have tended to be few and far between.

As we noted above, some copyright notices have started appearing during streaming – but generally this will still allow you to keep streaming if you hit “OK”, but might limit the length of the stream or the ability to save/rewatch it after the fact. Details on this new system are fairly limited – we’re guessing it is still in the testing phases, and we will update this article as we learn more!

The current consensus is that most takedowns on Facebook Live are a result of someone watching your stream and manually reporting you for copyright infringement. This is good for DJs because the reach of your video (who sees it) will be most likely limited to your friends (or if a page, your followers) and their friends – and anyone who you share it with.

However, many people on Facebook seem to be abusing this “wild west” of copyright. Facebook will allegedly take down content when reported – but many digital creators have reported instances of Facebook not taking down content even when it’s a blatant copy of an original work (this is a bit different from a DJ mix, which is a derivative work).

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