Facebook Gaming is set to allow its partnered streamers to play copyrighted, popular music in the background of their live streams — which means they’ve seemingly solved the copyright problem that’s plagued live-streaming (and basically the entire internet) since the beginning. Facebook is partnering with the music industry to open up a vast catalogue of popular music for Facebook Gaming Partners to play while livestreaming games
Facebook Extends Music Licensing for Gamers to play while livestreaming
Facebook has entered a series of new music licensing deals with labels and publishers for its Facebook Gaming platform, letting livestreamers who play video games for the platform’s community of 200 million monthly viewers legally add songs from a vast catalogue of popular music to their videos.
The deals announced on Monday (Sept. 14) include multi-year pacts with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, along with their respective publishing companies; as well as Kobalt Music Group, BMG publishing and Merlin; and cover more than 90 countries. While Facebook declined to specify the total number of songs included, a company spokesperson said that “when we look at the music played on platform, the vast majority is covered” and “restricted tracks are very rare.”
In a press release, a spokesperson for Facebook Gaming said:
So, how it works? Music played during a gaming broadcast must be a background element, not be the primary focus of the stream. For example, a streamer’s voice and/or gameplay audio should be in the foreground. This also applies to clips made from a livestream, and the VOD version of livestreams, but does not extend to separately edited and uploaded VOD content.
This is an extension of its existing user-generated content music licensing deals with labels, publishers and collecting societies, which will mean people broadcasting on Facebook’s game-streaming hub will now be able to use commercial music. There’s a caveat: some tracks won’t be allowed… but Facebook can’t say which
To be clear, the licenses Facebook has apparently negotiated do not include every track; some, mysteriously, are “restricted.” If streamers try to play those, they’ll get a pop-up notifying them that the track they’re playing isn’t actually licensed for use on Facebook Gaming. It’s also not clear which tracks are restricted, which means we can’t say for certain which tracks aren’t. (Facebook says the program will eventually roll out to all of its streamers.)
The deals cover full songs as well as clips of songs, so long as the music is not the primary focus of the livestream (meaning the music is supplemented by commentary, gameplay with sounds or both). Along with covering music played during livestreams, the deals also apply to clips made from a livestream and video-on-demand (VOD) versions of livestreams, but do not extend to separately edited and uploaded VOD content. The new feature is rolling out first to streamers enrolled in Facebook Gaming’s “partnership” program (which allows its most popular creators to monetize their followings) with a wide release to come. In the meantime, Facebook Gaming invites non-partner creators to choose from its existing cross-genre library of thousands of royalty-free songs.
The new deals give Facebook Gaming an edge over the gaming-focused livestreaming platform Twitch, owned by Amazon, which does not have licensing deals with major labels or publishers (although it does frequently work with major labels on activations and channel launches, and does have licensing deals with performing rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC). That has not sat well with the music business: In June, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent more than 2,500 copyright takedown notices to Twitch users for unlicensed music, igniting a social media firestorm within its creator community, and in August, the artist-run nonprofit Artist Rights Alliance sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accusing him of “willful blindness” to music royalties on the platform.