YouTube silences music videos

March 10, 2009 // 11:16 a.m.

Tags: #google #licensing #music-videos #pandora #performing-rights-society #prs #prs-for-music #youtube

Music videos on YouTube may be a thing of the past, thanks to a disagreement between site owner Google and the Performing Rights Society.

According to CNet, the Google-owned video sharing site is to remove access to streaming music videos for UK visitors after negotiations with the PRS – which collects licensing fees for 'performances' of copyrighted music – collapsed.

A statement prepared by YouTube said that the company's “previous license 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.” Blaming the PRS for “prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency,” YouTube has made the tough decision to block access to all music videos if your connection is in the UK.

The PRS, meanwhile, sees things slightly differently: claiming that it is “outraged on behalf of consumers and songwriters that Google has chosen to close down access to music videos on YouTube in the UK,” the rights organisation has defended its licensing fees – and points out that the company is asking “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” which nets Google a great amount of advertising revenue.

This isn't the first time the PRS has been blamed for causing a blackout for UK-based web surfers: early last year the web-based music streaming service Pandora blocked UK users from using its service, citing fees demanded by UK rights organisations which were “far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate.

It's not just web-based services that feel the wrath of the PRS, either: staff at a Lancashire Police station were targetted by the group for playing their radio too loud, which the PRS claimed constituted a public performance and thus required a licence.

Do you think the PRS should cut services like YouTube and Pandora some slack, or is the group simply doing its duty to its starving musician members? Will you be finding ways around the blockade to get your daily dose of YouTube music video goodness? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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