Just when you thought the world was coming to its senses regarding music licensing...
Airing its dirty laundry in public this week is YouTube which has announced it will begin blocking large amounts of uploaded music videos from UK site visitors.
The foot stamping comes after YouTube's license expired with rights holder the Performing Rights Society (PRS) for Music and it decided the renewal fee was too much to stomach. No financial details have been revealed from either side.
"Our previous licence from PRS for Music has expired, and we've been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us," said YouTube Director if Video Partnerships EMEA, Patrick Walker on the company's official blog. "There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency. We value the creativity of musicians and songwriters and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright. But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our licence than before. The costs are simply prohibitive for us."
Naturally PRS has been quick to counter and the response actually seems quite reasonable on the surface:
"PRS for Music is outraged on behalf of consumers and songwriters that Google has chosen to close down access to music videos on YouTube in the UK," it announced in a statement. "Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing. This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties. PRS for Music has not requested Google to do this and urges them to reconsider their decision as a matter of urgency."
I suspect YouTube is currently puffing its chest out to see how much it can get away with and it seems highly unlikely that this stand-off will remain in place for long. Indeed Walker admits: "We're still working with PRS for Music in an effort to reach mutually acceptable terms for a new licence."
With Spotify now freely available to all across the UK and offering far better audio quality I'm not sure it can afford to hang around...