Content creator SENATUS speaks up on STB "freebooting" its video

Following STB coming under fire from local blogger Benjamin Lee (Mr. Miyagi) for sharing content without proper attribution, creators of the vending machine spot SENATUS have sent a statement to Marketing.

Kien Lee, managing director of SENATUS said, as a digital magazine focused on covering luxury and lifestyle offerings, which also supports various stakeholders in the retail economy in Singapore, its “goals are very much the same as the Singapore Tourism Board's.” This would be to continue the “viability and attractiveness of Singapore as a destination.”

As such, if a formal request had been made, the team "would have been happy" to provide the original high-res video for STB’s Facebook page  - to post with proper credits.

"Having said that, I note that they had previously directly shared other viral videos on Singapore, instead of ripping videos and posting them as their own,” he said. He added that the video of the luxury car “vending machine” has spawned hundreds of news articles and TV coverage all over the world, generating publicity for Singapore, “and STB is one of only a handful of organisations that had re-uploaded the video.”

Lee also told Marketing that Facebook has since removed the “unauthorised and unflattering low-res version” of the video STB had put up.

“Going forward, I hope the team at STB and TBWA\ will appreciate the hard work content creators put into their work products. Once in a blue moon, we get lucky and the content goes viral,” he said. Lee said for SENATUS, while clicks and views aren’t monetised by its Facebook Page Owners,  investment are made towards “raising the visibility of the own digital properties”.

Repeating Benjamin “Mr. Miyagi” Lee’s comments he said, STB should have just posted and directly shared the link to the original video, especially once word had gone out. He added:

It is not something we the content owner needed to insist on, it would have been the right thing to do.

Tips for content creators to protect their work

Prantik Mazumdar, managing partner at Happy Marketer, said  it is paramount that companies respect the intellectual property and creative assets produced by others - "especially so, if one is an award winning, national tourism board, because it needs to lead from the front and set a good precedence."

To protect one's IP, many publishers can choose to have watermarks on their images and video footage so that even when others re-share or re-tweet it, the publisher gets due visibility and credit.

He noted however, that this does not solve the problem of the original publisher getting the requisite direct views, traffic and social engagement on their respective platform. Hence it is critical that third parties not only give the publisher a mention but share a direct link as opposed to re-uploading a edited version. He added:

Companies need to keep the mantra simple when sharing someone else's creative work: Give due credit by re-sharing the original content as well as ensure that there is a flow through of referral traffic.

"I am glad though that STB and TBWA\ took responsibility and owned up their mistake immediately in public. Humility will stand in good stead and set a strong example for everyone to follow," he said.

According to KRDS' director Preetham Venkky, he called the incident as "Freebooting" -  which is the act of downloading someone else's copyright-protected material, and uploading it on another channel or platform away from the original.

He added that the move to download and reupload SENATUS’ video content was actually against Facebook guidelines, aside from the violation of copyright laws in general.He said:

Currently, there are no official download functions for videos unlike for pictures hence it was likely the video was downloaded through other means not endorsed by Facebook.

"This form of attribution will not allow SENATUS to get the organic engagement needed for it to grow as a platform. Just crediting the video on its original posting will give the viewer too many obstacles in the experience journey to engage with SENATUS," he added. For example, a viewer is less likely to click on a link to the original video if they have already seen it.

He added that for content creators and publishers looking to protect their content, they should look at using Facebook's Rights Manager, which would allow them to protect their content. The tool allows them to identify new matches against protected content and flag the video.