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Facebook Clarifies Live Stream Policy

September 15, 2020 • Addison ChingNews

Facebook announced revised policies on August 31, effective October 1, which appeared to adversely affect "Facebook Live" live streamed music performances, including those performances presented on HIMELE's Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase series.

The announcement said in part that "We want you to be able to enjoy videos posted by family and friends. However, if you use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience for yourself or for others, your videos will be blocked and your page, profile or group may be deleted. This includes Live."

"Music listening experience" was seen and interpreted by many as any type of music presentation using Facebook's live stream facilities, including live musical performances by musicians and entertainers, even of their own original works.

Initial interpretation of this announcement was that the live streamed performances many artists use to keep in touch with and present music to their fan base would no longer be permitted using Facebook's live streaming facilities. Many saw this as Facebook's shutting the door to live stream music performances, contrary to what many believed to be Facebook's support and endorsement of live music streaming.

Many Facebook discussions centered around alternative platforms where live stream music presentations could be continued. Some correctly guessed that the new policies were an attempt to control the use of copyrighted music without permission and to stave off potential lawsuits brought against Facebook by the copyright owners for such unauthorized use.

Many musicians breathed a collective sigh of relief when Facebook issued a clarification for its new policy on September 11, in a document entitled, "Updates and Guidelines for Including Music in Video."

Apparently the new Facebook policy was developed to address ongoing lawsuits against Facebook for the use of copyrighted music in Live video presentations without proper clearance from the copyright holders and not covered by agreements already in place between Facebook and various music entities. This includes live streamed video presentations produced by Facebook users who unwittingly include prerecorded and copyrighted music as music background for their live stream presentations. This also apparently targets disk jockeys who use live streaming services to broadcast copyrighted music for dancing or entertainment.

In its September, 11, clarification, Facebook summarized its position and listed these points:

"Our partnerships with rights holders have brought people together around music on our platforms. As part of our licensing agreements, there are limitations around the amount of recorded music that can be included in Live broadcasts or videos. While the specifics of our licensing agreements are confidential, today we're sharing some general guidelines to help you plan your videos better:

  • Music in stories and traditional live music performances (e.g., filming an artist or band performing live) are permitted.
  • The greater the number of full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it may be limited (more below on what we mean by "limited").
  • Shorter clips of music are recommended.
  • There should always be a visual component to your video; recorded audio should not be the primary purpose of the video."

Facebook's clarification concludes by saying, "With these improvements, we look forward to people, artists, and creators continuing to use music to share and bond with each other across our platforms."

For further information, see Facebook's Updates and Guidelines for Including Music in Video.

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Live Stream Scotty
Scotty Wong Live Streaming a Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase presentation. Photo by Alan Akaka.