Facebook is expanding its licensed music feature to a majority of its game and live streaming platform, allowing more creators to use officially cleared songs during a broadcast without fear of a copyright strike from the music industry.
Facebook first began testing an improved licensed music feature for select partnered streamers last fall. At the time, Facebook said it had secured deals with music publishers and would work toward enabling the feature for its broader streaming platform. The company now says it has hundreds of deals in place — including with publishers such as Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment — that open the door to streaming large portions of the libraries of major streaming services. Music streaming is now available to all streamers under the Level Up and Partner Program tiers, the company said.
"Right now, you can play music from the service you prefer, from the device you prefer," Luis Renato Olivalves, head of gaming creators at Facebook Gaming, told Protocol. "Through that test phase, we were able to refine a lot in our engine and AI system to better detect and make sure the music is compliant to the model we defined with the industry."
Olivalves said the prior detection system was inadequate because it disrupted a creator's live stream and it didn't inform the streamer of which song or even artist was in violation. Now, Facebook will inform creators in real time without interrupting the stream that they're using a "restricted" song and give them time to remedy the situation. Olivalves said the number of restricted tracks is small and varies by country and region, but that a majority of major music publishers are represented globally. The rights cover both live broadcasts and recorded videos, known as VODs, but the rights only cover playback on Facebook and not on other social networks.
The unauthorized use of copyrighted material, mainly music, has been a major issue in the live streaming community for years, and only more so in the past 18 months as musicians, DJs and other non-gaming streamers have flocked to live streaming platforms during the pandemic. Industry leader Twitch has often come under fire for issuing waves of copyright notices that result in takedowns, suspensions and other actions with little to no recourse for creators. Twitch has improved its communication around these notices and now warns streamers about upcoming DMCA enforcement, but the platform does not have in place a widespread music licensing deal like Facebook now does.
For Facebook Gaming, securing these rights and expanding access to music streaming could help the company when negotiating with popular creators to leave competing services and join its own. Just this week, YouTube poached both Tim Betar, known as "TimTheTatMan," and Ben "DrLupo" Lupo from Twitch, indicating the high-stakes bidding war for streamer talent is far from over.