CoCo thinks Facebook and Instagram are being a drag.
CoCo’s the drag queen persona of Vancouver’s Derek White. With the West End Vancouver restaurant he manages shut due to the pandemic, White has taken to doing drag shows online to raise people’s spirits.
And, he’s getting hundreds and hundreds of views and shares.
However, he said Facebook and Instagram have been a bit of a drag on that front, removing the music from the performances he’s taping at home.
White said the whole thing began when he decided to do a selfie every day just to check in with folks.
“Then, a friend suggested I wear a wig,” he chuckled. “I do have a lot.”
White decided the selfie project wasn’t enough.
“I thought, ‘I need to do a little better.’”
With the shutdown, CoCo hadn’t been getting enough stage-time to shine.
So, the video idea was born.
“I get people everyday commenting how they love it, how it gives them an energy boost at the beginning of the day,” White said.
The first post as Whitney Houston went to Instagram—where it was muted. It got 800 views.
The Mary J. Blige performance got 600 views and Tina Turner 195. Janelle Monae didn’t fare as well. They’re still on Facebook with intermittent sound.
“People are enjoying them,” White said. “It’s just Facebook and their copyright mute. Ridiculous.
“I get up every morning and put my music on random, see what music jumps out at me, put on a wig,” White explained. “I’m just putting it out there. I’m enjoying doing it.”
He’s been recording the spots on his phone and then uploading.
Then the warning from Instagram arrived.
“Your video was blocked because it may contain music, audio or video that belongs to someone else,” it said. “Your video matches 31 seconds of video owned by Warner Music Group Rights Management.”
White was told to delete the video if he didn’t have all the rights to use the material.
Facebook’s copyright policy said a person may breach copyright rules even if they ought or downloaded the content; recorded the content onto their own recording device; gave the copyright owner credit; included a disclaimer that you didn’t intend to infringe copyright; didn’t intend to profit from it; or modified the work or added their own original material to it.
Instagram’s copyright policy page said posters must ensure all posted items must be made by the poster.
“You can only post content to Instagram if it doesn’t violate the intellectual property rights of another party,” it said.
The exemptions to that rule include having permission to use the material or if it falls within copyright exceptions.
White had considered other social media platforms. “I tried TikTok but that’s too much work.”
Graham Spence runs Tuck Entertainment, which promotes drag queens and their performances. He said some performances fall under fair use of music.
Spence said Facebook does allow appeals, which go to a person rather than a robot. His suggestion to White: say you're an artist and not making any money off the use of the music.
Facebook sees it differently, though.
“We reviewed the video and determined the audio in the video was removed correctly,” spokesman David Troya-Alvarez said.
He said music rights are complex, so some copyright restrictions may impact live videos that include music.
Bu, he added, in the current circumstances when the importance of tools like Facebook Live is becoming more critical in helping people connect, the company is actively working on ways to improve the Live experience.