The latest financial impact that artists have to deal with is the rise of streaming services that sees their work licensed on platforms such as Spotify and returning an almost insignificant amount of revenue in return. For unsigned artists, many feel they do not have a choice and see it as the best way to try and get their work out there. If you’re signed to a record label then kiss your rights goodbye as you will have zero say in whether or not your work becomes publicly available on such platforms.

Years ago, one of the most common threats to any musician was the advent of illegally downloading music via sites such as BitTorrent and LimeWire which saw many artists lose out on millions of dollars worth of revenue, however, this was not limited to music as movies were heavily impacted also via this illegal method. Recently, many of these sites have either been taken down as a result of legal action or simply blocked by internet service providers meaning you simply cannot visit these sites. Now, social media is the latest target for counterfeiters and Facebook does not seem to be interested in applying their own policies when it comes to promoting illegal merchandise.

Ads must not contain content that infringes upon or violates the rights of any third party
- Facebook

Anyone with a Facebook business page can promote a post. You don’t need to submit any kind of registration documents to prove you’re a real business, nor do you even have to provide evidence of where your office is based to hold you accountable for your actions. The only thing Facebook seems to be bothered about is making sure your payment method is verified before you can run any ads, they like to make sure they get paid. Some may see this verification as a way of holding a business accountable for their suspicious actions, but scammers know how to negate this very easily and it doesn’t appear to be preventing them from trying to rip off artists with their shoddy merchandise.

Recently, we have personally seen 5-10 ads per day on Facebook that appear to be quite blatantly advertising counterfeit merchandise. Most of the ads focus on specific bands such as Slipknot, Rammstein, Megadeth, Tool and even Guns N Roses.

Most of the merchandise appears to be using the band logos, and even album covers on badly photoshopped adverts displaying band members holding up the merchandise. You may have even seen some of these adverts yourself from fake pages such as ‘Lovers of Slipknot’, ‘RammST Fans 4 Ever’, and other horrifically named fraudster pages.

You are not allowed to create and sell band merchandise on behalf of an artists unless you apply for an official license to do so. These companies are simply setting up new fake pages everyday and trying to sell their bootleg merch with most ads being seen by hundreds of thousands of people globally.

Whilst Facebook clearly state in their ads policy “Ads must not contain content that infringes upon or violates the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or other personal or proprietary rights. To report content that you feel may infringe upon or violate your rights, please visit our Intellectual Property Help Centre” they seem to be completely ignoring their own rules.

All ads published on facebook must be reviewed by Facebook to ensure they abide by Facebook's own policies before going live on the website and being presented to people like you, the public. This means someone must physically review the ad to ensure it does not violate any of their own terms, yet these ads for counterfeit ads are being approved. We’ve been reporting all of the ads we see on facebook that are clearly promoting counterfeit merchandise, and about 9/10 are being taken down with facebook responding with “We removed the ad you reported. We reviewed the ad you reported and have removed it as it violated our Ad Policies Thank you for your report. It helps us improve the ads we serve. We've let the advertiser know that we removed the ad, but not who reported it.” So why did you approve it in the first place?

So, this means that either facebook are just letting these ads run in the hope people don’t notice, or, facebook just quite simply don’t care.

Many of these companies are running multiple adverts with 100s of different designs, none of which appear to be licensed.

One fake page called Mami Tee was created on 6 Sept 2019 and, at the time of writing this, had 84 different ads running on Facebook, most of which looked like blatant copyright infringement by selling merchandise in the form of T-Shirts alledgedy representing artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Pink Floyd. Sex Pistols, The Clash and more. You can see the ads for yourself here via the Facebook public library.

If you see any advert that looks even remotely suspicious, report it! Facebook will actually review the ad, and it most cases take it down. However, this is really not acceptable to be allowing these ads to run in the first place. It’s difficult enough for artists to make a living and merchandise is one of the biggest revenue avenues to help finance tours and other aspects of being a musician.

We’ve contacted Facebook, but doubt we’ll get a response.

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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