It’s Okay To Steal Online Content?

By Matt Haze

Youtube Facebook Radio Content Theft Embed ShareI’ve been meaning to write this for awhile.  And finally, I’m going to say it.


Video copyright infringement has been running rampant on Facebook for awhile now.  But over the last few months, I’ve noticed RADIO has gotten into the game.  Which is funny, because I thought it was all about the music and nothing but the music with PPM?  Hmmmmm.

The main culprit is someone finding a “viral” video on a Facebook page or YouTube video, using software available online to download it, and then uploading it to their own page without giving any sort of credit, acting as if it’s their own.

Why?  Because “viral” is the hot term and some consultant said “you need to do more of that.”

I mean, why take the time to create your OWN content when you can steal someone else’s

Earlier, I brought this up on a post on my Facebook wall.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.00.44 PM

Along with this, I pointed out one culprit that was brought to my attention: “Mix 94.1” WHBC-FM Canton, Ohio.  On their Facebook page were numerous videos uploaded as if they owned them without giving credit.  One video even starts with a voiceover identifying the video as being from, where it has been seen over 2.3 million times on YouTube.  Blatantly obvious, huh?

Case in point….


I decided to call out the people who work at the station to find out why they feel this is okay. The station’s morning host chimed in with this:

If the video is uploaded TO Facebook, it becomes the property of Facebook per their TOS. So if a video is ON Facebook and is scoped off of Facebook and is reuploaded TO Facebook there isn’t any ‘intellectual theft” as alleged because the video is the property of Facebook.

That’s really pushing the rules a bit, huh?  Isn’t that like saying “well I heard something on the radio and the radio is public airwaves controlled by the FCC and my tax money, so I can do exactly what you did anyway without a problem.”

For the record, I was blocked moments later after I pointed out one of their videos was ripped off from a Cumulus station in Atlanta. It was obvious it was from the Atlanta station… the mic flag visible in the video had the Atlanta station’s logo all over it.  Oops.  Try using that excuse you gave me with their lawyer in court.

Ironically, Cumulus in Atlanta is another one of the culprits where CHR “Q100” got twice as many views as the original poster despite the lack of credit and theft. iHeartMedia’s Atlanta cluster also appears to be a frequent offender. CHR “Power 96.1” ripped the extremely viral video of the Delaware police officer lip syncing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.  The anonymous social media manager at Alternative “Radio 105.7” WRDA says “My Dog Rules” in an abbreviated clip from an uploader in the UK, where at least the original poster’s username is displayed on the lifted video.

I could go on for hours with this.  There’s THAT many examples of content theft.

Why does Facebook allow this to go on?

Facebook is becoming increasingly reliant on video. The company states that video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the US in 2014. The Guardian reported earlier this year on how Facebook is looking to take down YouTube. The Daily Dot made a detailed report in October on the copyright infringement issues plaguing Facebook

Some of the biggest pages on the site, including celebrities and media companies, are uploading copyrighted material illegally—with no consequences whatsoever.

Radio stations and other brands that steal the works of others are not profiting directly, as any advertising revenue on Facebook goes ONLY to Facebook.  The stations use these works to attempt to bring visitors to their pages, regardless of the relevance of doing so. How does a 55 year-old Australian discovering the page of a CHR in Atlanta via sharing bring revenue to the radio station? How does that Australian benefit your client looking for results from their ad dollars, say a local car dealer wanting to sell vehicles to local listeners?

You want to share videos people are talking about… I get it! But that’s what you have to do.  SHARE. Don’t download and upload as your own. Use the share button next to any content and do it the proper way. Take it from someone who has had his content stolen: we appreciate you sharing, not stealing.

Radio personalities are just that: personalities!  They’re paid (nowhere near enough) to be themselves on the air and build a relationship with the listener on the other side.  I’d bet you a candy bar from the break room that your staff comes up with and says funny things all the time that would make for GREAT online content.  Is it really that hard to press record on that camera embedded in nearly every cell phone, tablet, and laptop and create your own unique video content with that material that makes yourselves laugh?  No.  It’s not.  If you don’t believe me, feel free to contact me and I’ll show you how…

Matt Haze is an 18 year radio and comedy veteran who has worked on stage, on the air and online all across the country.  Based in New York, his @30RockTree twitter project had over 1.2 million impressions during the 2014 holiday season.  You can read more of Matt’s comedy at

  1. Scott Fybush says

    And by the way, neither FB nor YouTube claim ownership of content uploaded to their sites. The original copyright holder still holds copyright. Uploading a video to FB or YT grants FB or YT certain rights – but it does *not* invalidate the creator’s copyright or make the copyrighted material available for anyone to grab and distribute as though it were their own.

    1. Matt Haze says

      No matter how muddy the legal waters are, it’s a conscious decision someone makes to rip content. If someone ripped off your on air content, you’ throw a hissy fit. But it’s okay to steal online content? Ridiculous.

      Thanks for the response! I want some WEgmans trail mix now!

  2. Steve Varholy says

    Aside from the copyright issues, stations, what does doing this get you?

    Ok, sure, you get “engagement” credit on Facebook. But if you are not creating the content or it has no relationship to the station or it’s image, how does this get you further down the field? It’s almost a bait-and-switch. It’s like saying you wrote a term paper and then when forced to defend the paper in front of a panel, it becomes really obvious that you didn’t write it and you know absolutely NOTHING about the topic you presented yourself as being an expert on.

    Create your own content. Don’t have anything really creative to say? Think on it some, then. Don’t have the time? That’s ok. Better to do nothing. Or share something WITH ATTRIBUTION. Nobody will mind the fact that you are merely sharing. After all, you didn’t write or perform the recorded music you are playing either.

    1. Matt Haze says

      AMEN. It gets you nothing. Just headaches and pointless likes that make your boss or consultant that has no clue what the hell they’re doing happy.

      Radio wants to find quick and easy ways to stay relevant. This isn’t it.

      Thanks for the response!

  3. maytableinc says

    Aside from the videos, I’ve also seen a lot of radio stations take ownership of many of the memes created by “anonymous” authors. I always see my FB friends share a meme that was posted by a radio station that has like… 500K+ likes. Ones that particularly bother me are those that post their website on the memes’ description, which generally speaking, are not created by the radio station themselves. And people are sharing these photos and these radio stations are getting web traffic as a result of a meme that isn’t even theirs. Ehm, WYUL-FM Montreal is a perfect example. I have seen some other stations even put their logo on the memes that are not created by them, as a way to even take ownership of it, which is even more disgusting than slapping their website on the description.

    But being the devil’s advocate, when radio stations posts links to other sites on their FB page, mainly about celebrity news, it tends to get much less engagement than those pages that posts memes. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed.

    Creating own content takes time and effort, which is not something most radio stations or the people in charge of their social media sites, want to do. But like any good morning show or general talk show, success is built with original creativity, not through plagiarism.

    1. Matt Haze says

      Yeah, the meme stealing has become rampant. But most of the time, even the owner doesn’t list where it came from. I think that’d be way too difficult to enforce. But your point about stations making their OWN stuff? Spot on.

      Also re: celebrity news. Many of the iHeartMedia jocks will post a link to their station’s website which has a three sentence description to what hapepned and then link to the original story. Seems like a waste. But the jocks are judged on web clicks DAILY. So it’s a thing.

      Thanks for the reply!

  4. Eric Jon Magnuson says

    Envision’s announcement today of a new radio-oriented photo library (press release at reminded me that some stations (and, indeed, group owners) have been sued over posting supposedly copyrighted photos. While this isn’t quite the same as what’s mentioned in the original post, it does bear repeating that there are indeed folks who are on the lookout for possible copyright violations.

    1. Matt Haze says

      Absolutely! I have friends that were caught in the middle of that mess a few years ago. A lot of it goes back to lack of creativity and just trying to do what everyone else does.

      I did not see the Envision announcement, so thanks for sharing!

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