Freebooting - A Short Guide

If you work in marketing then you'll be aware of content marketing. You'll also be aware of the advent of Facebook video and how it is, essentially, crushing YouTube in terms of views at the moment**. The chances are then, you'll have heard someone use the phrase Freebooting at some point. There's also a pretty strong chance that you'll have little or no clue as to what they're talking about.

Freebooting is when someone rips a video from a YouTube channel and uploads it to their own channel/site as their own content. Freebooting isn't a new thing. Ever since people have been uploading content onto the internet people have been ripping it down and reposting it as their own but the growth of Facebook video has pushed the practice high up on people's radar as the practice seems to be one that Facebook are ignoring for the time being.

Yeah I know - this kind of thing has been happening for ages so why all the fuss? People have been hosting content on YouTube for years and linking out to it on Facebook and other social channels. The big thing about putting content on YouTube is that you can get revenue from it as YouTube sell ad space on the videos. People are getting upset because Facebook are serving their ads around it and gathering revenue. The people who own/made the content aren't getting any attribution and they're certainly not getting any revenue from the ad serving that they might have done if the video was a YouTube embed.

So it's all about the money people. As with most things.

Let me just take you through an example I found. And I didn't have to search too hard. In fact this was the first post I saw on my Facebook feed when I went to look.


This screengrab is of a video on Facebook of a 14 Year Old girl effortlessly covering Van Halen's Eruption. It has over 28k like and 183k shares. I don't know how many views it has but at an estimate lets guess that for every share it has a 3 views (one for the person sharing and two of their friends viewing). That gives a total of over half a million views. 

Then look to the right of the video player. There are two ads right there. And for every click they receive Facebook are generating revenue. 


The screengrab to the left is taken from the YouTube page of Tina S, a very talented young French woman who certainly knows how to play a guitar. This clip is her playing Van Halen's Eruption and... Wait a second. That's the same as the Facebook video! Tina S has been Freebooted! 

As you can see it has over 10m views. Pretty impressive. This is her own channel though. So any revenue generated from it YouTube will give her a share. A share mind, not all of it.

So this is her video on her channel. The Facebook example is her video, Freebooted and served beside ads.

And just to prove that Freebooting isn't just about Facebook - this is the exact same video served on a different YouTube channel. It has over 2.5m views. If I was Tina S I'd be more than a little upset that someone else could be making money of her not inconsiderable skills. 

At the end of the day Freebooting somebody else's content is copyright infringement. If there is something online that you like and fits your brand and you want to use it then by all means embed it or link to it, just don't rip it down and claim it to be your own. That's just wrong man. 

By the way - If you want to know more about Tina S then you should visit her Facebook Page. The girl can play.

**When I first wrote this blog post I had been looking for data on Facebook Vs YouTube views etc and I use the word 'crushing' in the first paragraph. Well in the months since this was published we've seen a few more of the important details and while Facebook video is performing for them, I can't stand over this particular sentence. Mainly because of how Facebook measure views. If you want to read more about that you'll find interesting articles here and here.