Business News Deals Digital

Facebook buys rights management start-up Source3

By | Published on Wednesday 26 July 2017


Facebook has boosted its rights management capabilities by acquiring Source3, a start-up described as “the world’s first platform for end-to-end management of intellectual property in user-generated content”.

As video becomes ever more central to the Facebook proposition, and Facebook users upload ever increasing quantities of video to the platform, the social media firm has been busy trying to provide tools for copyright owners whose content is uploaded by third parties without licence.

Facebook needs to provide such tools, of course, so that it can claim protection under the often controversial copyright safe harbour, meaning it can’t be held liable for the copyright infringement of its users. But ultimately the social media firm wants to encourage rights owners to upload content – and to allow others to upload their content – by promising to share any ad income generated with said content makers.

Which, of course, is what YouTube’s Content ID was set up to do. Facebook has its own Content ID rival already, called Rights Manager, which was initially about rights owners blocking uncleared content, but now monetisation options are slowly emerging too.

It’s thought that the Source3 acquisition is about Facebook boosting its abilities in the rights management domain, so to woo rather than annoy content owners and content-generating brands who it wants to keep within the social network’s ecosystem.

Source3 confirmed the Facebook deal via its website, declaring that: “We’re excited to bring our IP, trademark and copyright expertise to the team at Facebook and serve their global community of two billion people, who consume content, music, videos and other IP every day. We feel great about this next step in our journey, and we thank everyone who helped us get to where we are today”.

Confirming the deal for Facebook, the firm’s Vanessa Chan told TechCrunch: “We’re excited to work with the Source3 team and learn from the expertise they’ve built in intellectual property, trademarks and copyright”.

The acquisition could help Facebook match the abilities of YouTube’s rights management technology, and maybe fuel a competition between the two tech giants as to whose platform offers the best content control tools. Which would be good for the music industry which reluctantly acknowledges that Content ID is a decent system, but which would like to see increasingly sophisticated tools developed to make it easier and less time consuming to manage content that has been uploaded to sites like YouTube and Facebook.

It’s sort of ironic that Source3 will likely help Facebook catch up with Google’s YouTube in terms of rights management abilities, given that the start-up’s founders – Patrick Sullivan and Benjamin Cockerham – sold their previous digital music rights management company Rightsflow to Google in 2011.