Today, 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. In a press release, a spokesperson for Facebook Gaming put it like this:
So, how’s it work? 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.
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.)
Still, though: this is huge. Especially, I should note, because it’s happening immediately after the flurry of DMCA takedown notices that hit Twitch streamers in early June. That isn’t even to mention the conspicuous and unceremonious collapse of Twitch Sings, the popular karaoke program, which the company quietly announced would go away on January 1st.
For Facebook, however, I suspect this program is only the beginning.