Facebook gets 377,000-plus IP complaints in six months

Social network Facebook has released figures for the first time on the number of reports it has received by rights holders making complaints about intellectual property infringement on the platform.

According to the Transparency Report, previously known as the Government Requests Report, for the first half of 2017 the tech firm received more than 377,000 reports of IP infringement covering copyright, trademark and counterfeits, leading to the removal of almost 3 million pieces of content, including videos, ads and individual posts across Facebook and the firm’s photo-sharing service Instagram.

From January to June 2017, the Facebook platform received 224,464 reports of copyright infringement of content on the network, 41,854 reports of trademark infringement and 14,279 reports of counterfeits.

Meanwhile, Instagram received 70,008 reports of copyright infringement, 16,563 reports of trademark infringement and 10,231 reports of counterfeits during the first six months of 2017.

In the past, the report focused just on government requests for account data, content restrictions based on local law, and information about internet disruptions.

“For the first time, we are expanding the report beyond government requests to provide data regarding reports from rights holders related to intellectual property – covering copyright, trademark and counterfeit,” Facebook said in a statement. “We believe that sharing information about IP reports we receive from rights holders is an important step toward being more open and clear about how we protect the people and businesses that use our services.”

The report shows that of the 224,464 reports of copyright infringement on Facebook, 68.34 per cent were actioned resulting in 1,818,794 pieces of content removed from the platform, while 64.08 per cent of copyright reports on Instagram were actioned, resulting in 685,996 pieces of content being removed from the platform.

Reports of trademark infringement resulted in 47.17 per cent being actioned on Facebook and 48.61 per cent on Instagram, where 110,977 and 37,478 pieces of content were removed from each platform respectively.

Meanwhile, counterfeit reports produced the highest action rates among the three types of infringement. On Facebook, 81.11 per cent of reports were actioned, resulting in 217,265 pieces of content taken down, with 85.21 per cent of counterfeit reports actioned on Instagram, which saw 108,094 pieces of content removed from the platform.

Both Facebook and Instagram make its clear in their policy documents that it is prohibited for users to post content that infringes third parties’ IP rights.

To ensure this, both platforms have online reporting forms where rights holders can report incidences of infringement. These are processed by the IP Operations team, which is a global team of trained professionals who provide around-the-clock coverage in multiple languages. Valid reports will result in the infringing content being taken down within a day or less of the report being made, Facebook said.

The platforms also disable accounts of repeat infringers.

Current tools to help rights holders monitor the platforms for potentially infringing content include Rights Manager, which is a video-matching tool that identifies videos on Facebook, including Live Videos, that match rights holders’ copyrighted content, and the Commerce and Ads IP Tool, which allows rights holders to search across all Facebook and Instagram ads and posts for instances where their trademark is used and to report any potential infringement.

Facebook noted it was continuing to invest in developing additional tools to help rights holders to spot and report infringing content.

“At Facebook, we take intellectual property rights seriously, and we work hard to foster a safe and trusted community that encourages people to share lawful content. To combat copyright and trademark infringement, as well as counterfeit goods, we’ve put in place numerous measures aimed at helping rights holders protect their content on both Facebook and Instagram,” the tech firm said.

It added: “We are proud to take another step today with the release of information specifically related to IP. We believe that this information is valuable for rights holders and users alike, and we hope that it encourages people to continue sharing and discovering content with confidence on Facebook and Instagram.”

This year’s findings, which only include complaints of infringement via the online reporting system, come at a time when social media is increasingly being singled out as a platform being used more and more by counterfeiters. In November, the UK National Trading Standards said social media and the internet were transforming the criminal landscape in counterfeit goods, with online IP crime deemed an emerging threat. Meanwhile, the European Commission has issued guidelines and a warning to online tech firms such as Facebook to do more to remove infringing content online or face legislation, which could come as early as May next year. 

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