Tuesday, March 10, 2009

YouTube blocks music videos in the UK

Last night at six o'clock it was announced that YouTube would be blocking all premium (i.e. official) music videos to UK viewers, after failing to reach a deal with the Performing Rights Society. The PRS represents the writers and performers, and in the UK any broadcasters, live events, shops that play music and even cafes puts and hairdressers need a licence to be able to play music that people can listen to in public.

Currently YouTube is taking videos down, or blocking them for UK visitors, but in my (brief) search I have yet to find any that have been blocked. I expect this issue to be sorted out pretty soon - they're having a meeting today, and as far as I can see YouTube hold almost all of the cards. The PRS is pushing for a huge increase in the licence payment, because use of YouTube has grown so much since their last negotiation in 2007, but YouTube are resisting the increase.

In their blog YouTube argue that beyond their deal with the PRS they compensate musicians in other ways "In addition to various advertising options, we recently introduced a click-to-buy feature that enables fans to purchase downloads of their favorite songs. We're also proud of our Content ID tools that help rights owners identify their content and even use the power of our community to increase advertising and revenue potential."

Update: Mark Mulligan of Forrester states on his MusicIndustry blog that Google are arguing that the PRS cannot provide a comprehensive list of all of the artists that they represent.

In the meantime, one side effect is that other content that YouTube take down is now showing freely. YouTube presumably don't have the manpower to take down all the football clips that get illegally uploaded, so this morning 10 of the 20 most viewed clips in the UK are rights-protected football videos.

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