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YouTube Blocks Music Videos From UK Visitors

Gordon Kelly


YouTube Blocks Music Videos From UK Visitors

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...


YouTube Statement

PRS for Music Statement


March 10, 2009, 5:51 am

Why are youtube paying for the music promos anyway? They are even called promos because they are used to sell the music. MTV get their video content for free.


March 10, 2009, 12:57 pm

Another case of the music industry shooting itself in the foot?


March 10, 2009, 1:00 pm

It's a subtle point but essentially youtube is seen as the primary means for consumption of these music videos. I.e. it's quite conceivable that a user will sit and listen to/watch a video repeatedly for multiple days in a row (I know that's what I did for a couple of days upon discovering The Bronx). As such it is just like any other form of public showing so must be paid for. If all youtube showed was clips of videos then it would no longer be a primary means of consumption and would be just a promotional tool.

MTV, on the other hand, is not user controlled so can hardly be see as a primary means of consumption. It's effectively like one long advert for whatever music videos the record companies want to promote.


March 10, 2009, 1:10 pm

This to me sounds like the video version of Pandora - as in the service stops streaming to the UK because the content owner company ramps up the royalty fee to rediculous levels. Music channels generally do have to pay for their videos, that's why it costs so much to request something and they're usually subscription only. MTV may be a different case due it's "blunt instrument" (musically and financially) for the record companies to promote stuff.

The PRS4M response sounds like they're trying to save face; "We've ramped up the royalties significantly bbecause we've realised that we can milk YouTube for all they have due to the captive audience. At the same time, we don't want to seem like the bad guys, so we're going to make YouTube sound like the bad guys"


March 10, 2009, 1:46 pm

"This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties." - contradiction in terms?


March 10, 2009, 2:01 pm

Well you won't find the music I posted on spotify in HD or with anything close to its audio quality.


March 10, 2009, 2:38 pm

Who is the bad guy, mmm. Well lets see, how long has it taken the music industry to wake up and listen to there consumers, aka DRM and the like. Sorry I don't particularly trust the music industry, I see them on the same level as the banking sector.


March 10, 2009, 3:31 pm

I was wondering when this would show up.

As an avid YouTube user, I don't think it's in the least bit dramatic to call it an Orwellian nightmare. DMCAs being thrown at the drop of a hat, votebot attacks being allowed to rampage all over people's channels because the company don't like that particular type of content, regional lockouts for clips of programmes that ARE available in that country anyway (just through a different broadcaster).

It's becoming increasingly intolerable, ans stands against the originally liberal remit of the service. Contrary to the wider public image of solely being the home for singing cats and violent skater accidents, it used to be a place for open discussion and exchanging ideas, and while you can still get that from innovative broadcasters if you look around, it's quickly being reduced to a dull marketplace for dull advertisers. Shame.

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