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Stealing content on Facebook could get harder with the acquisition of Source3

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Maksym Protsenko / 123RF
Object recognition software can power anything from organizing photo albums to determining a dish’s recipe from a single photo but the technology could soon prevent piracy on Facebook and maybe even generate different revenue streams for content creators. On Monday, Facebook acquired Source3, software that recognizes intellectual property in order to prevent its theft.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. The Source3 technology — and at least part of the startup’s staff — will become part of Facebook’s New York office, ceasing to operate separately as Source3.

Source3 uses object-recognition technology and a reference database to flag content. The system recognizes both copyrighted material, such as videos and trademarks. That means along with preventing piracy, the program could potentially notify businesses when branded items pop up in an original video.

“At Source3, we set out to recognize, organize and analyze branded intellectual property in user-generated content, and we are proud to have identified products across a variety of areas including sports, music, entertainment and fashion,” the announcement from Source3 reads. “Along the way, we built an end-to-end platform to manage online IP and establish relationships with brands …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.”

While it is unclear how Source3’s existing content will be integrated into Facebook with the acquisition, enhancing the Rights Manager is a good guess. The system, launched two years ago, allows videographers to detect and remove videos shared on Facebook without permission — or, instead of removing the video, take all the advertising revenue from the stolen work. An update earlier this year allowed users to set up the removal automatically.

The platform’s ability to recognize individual brands could also open up potential beyond just preventing the theft of intellectual property. If the program can recognize a brand’s products inside a video, the software could allow content creators to earn revenue through sponsorships such as using a specific product inside a video, TechChrunch suggests. Object recognition could also help Facebook’s advertising system to select similar products to those used in the video.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced the development of an app dedicated entirely to video creators. Video is becoming an increasingly popular across social networks and the web and while Facebook boasts one of the largest audiences, earning money from a video is less straightforward than with platforms like YouTube.

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