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Offline is the new online: Facebook to test saving videos on app for offline viewing

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Facebook is piloting an offline video viewing feature in India, by letting users save videos within its mobile app, reports TechCrunch. The pilot will go live on July 11th for a select number of users in India; users can view downloaded videos by launching the Facebook app, but they will not be allowed to save videos on the phone’s memory.

Apart from disabling local storage of videos, publishers or page admins can manually disable video saving from their Page’s Content Distribution setting, Facebook said in a letter to publishers (which TechCrunch has a copy of). This is meant to keep a check on piracy.  The company said in the letter that only original videos posted by individual users and other pages (who don’t disable downloads) can be saved via the new feature.

TechCrunch points out that instead of announcing the feature through a blog post, Facebook forwarded the update as a mail to publishers only. While a spokesperson from Facebook told MediaNama, that the pilot was created after it got feedback from markets like India where mobile Internet connectivity is limited. In order to bring a better video experience on Facebook for users in these areas, it will be testing the feature in locations with limited connectivity, it added.

YouTube offline viewing: The offline viewing feature by Facebook is going on test mode when YouTube had launched a similar feature last month, which allowed users in India to save videos overnight within the mobile app by taking advantage of cheaper or discounted data packs available during late night hours or non-peak hours. This is currently available for users on Airtel and Telenor networks initially, while YouTube India says that it will extend the feature with more operators eventually.

Why this is very different from YouTube’s Offline viewing feature

YouTube on the other hand unveiled a workaround for saving videos offline through its mobile app in India in 2014. At that time, YouTube said that the feature was aimed at saving data billing by allowing users to watch videos (only in the app) many times over without a data connection. The offline feature is not available across all videos (unlike Facebook); most copyrighted videos are locked by default. However, some videos from channels like T-series, Saregama, Yashraj Films are downloadable, since they are YouTube’s content partners.

In addition, Facebook does not mark its videos uploaded by users under a license, like how YouTube does. For example: this video uploaded by emimusic label is marked under “Standard YouTube license” which allows only YouTube to repost the video within its platform, while giving ownership to the original uploader. So this means, a user cannot save such videos offline via the app. However, videos marked with “Creative Commons Attribution” license allows other users to download such videos, remix them with other videos, if given proper attribution to the creator.

Facebook’s terms and conditions clearly state that all content uploaded by a user including those consisting of a persons’ Intellectual Property (IP) can be reposted, or re-used anywhere within the platform, while it acquires “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).” This “IP License” is terminated by the company when users delete the content or their accounts, unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Image credit: Pixabay under CC0 1.0

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MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

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