Similar to any other online platforms that deal with user-generated content, Instagram and Facebook process thousands of copyright complaints daily.
Simply responding to takedown notices isn’t sufficient for all rightsholders, some of which mentioned Meta’s companies as potential “notorious markets” in recent recommendations to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
Meta Rebuts Notorious Markets Claims
Meta is not happy with this and this week the company responded with a rebuttal. For starters, it points out that the USTR’s Special 301 process is intended to map foreign copyright threats, not domestic ones. That would mean that as an American corporation, Meta has no place in the review.
Zuckerberg’s company writes that it fully supports the USTR’s Notorious Markets List as a means to flag global piracy and counterfeiting threats, but expanding it to domestic companies goes beyond its scope.
“[I]f the Notorious Markets List is to continue to advance U.S. trade interests internationally, it needs to remain focused on the underlying purpose of the Special 301 program: the identification of foreign countries and foreign markets that engage in or facilitate piracy and counterfeiting.”
Many Anti-Piracy Tools
Meta doesn’t stop there. It continues the rebuttal by outlining the wide variety of anti-piracy and counterfeiting measures it has implemented over the years.
Both Instagram and Facebook have anti-piracy tools that go far beyond the basic notice and takedown procedures required by law. This includes automated content recognition technology, for example, as well as an elaborate Intellectual Property Reporting API.
Instagram also blocks hashtags linked to potentially problematic content. For example, the #Z-Library hashtag doesn’t seem to exist, and tagging posts with #IPTV doesn’t lead anywhere either.
According to Meta, these types of interventions are meant to reduce the discoverability of potential copyright-infringing content. In the case of the hashtag blocks, it also allows Instagram to automatically disable accounts that repeatedly use these forbidden words.
Meta’s rebuttal mentions that it recently added a new ‘intervention’ technique to its arsenal. To reduce piracy and counterfeiting, both Instagram and Facebook now show popups to users who search for controversial terms.
It’s unclear how many problematic terms Meta identified, but “luxury replica” and “IPTV” are explicitly mentioned.
“Now, when users enter certain counterfeit- and piracy-related terms […] into the search bar on Facebook or Instagram, they are directed to a pop-up that explains Meta’s policy against IP infringement and offered a link to Meta’s IP Help Center to learn more,” Meta writes.
Facebook and Instagram users can still reach the search results if they want, but Meta believes that this nudge will help to educate users where needed.
“Only after users see this pop-up can they click through to see the results of their search. By adding this layer of friction, we are able to reduce users’ engagement with potential counterfeit and pirated content – all while providing further education and transparency,” Meta clarifies.
Just how effective these and other tools are is unknown. Meta probably collects data on how people interact with these roadblocks so it would be great – from a transparency perspective – to learn what the click-through rate is.
All in all, Meta believes that all the efforts it takes to combat piracy, should make it clear that their platforms should not be labeled as ‘notorious piracy markets’, even if they were foreign services.
A copy of Meta’s full rebuttal, which it sent to the USTR a few days ago, is available here (pdf)