YouTube UK to block music videos on failed negotiations

United Kingdom – YouTube UK will begin blocking most of its premium content music videos from UK viewers after negotiations with the Performing Rights Society (PRS) for Music have failed. YouTube claims the asking price was just too high and that they would’ve lost money with every video play.

YouTube’s Patrick Walker wrote in a blog post that the PRS has greatly increased its license fees, stating that “the costs are simply prohibitive for us – under PRS’s proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback.”

Walker writes:

“We have invested a lot of time and effort trying to ensure that our community can find and enjoy the music they love, and we have strong partnerships with three of the four largest record labels in the world, as well as many independent labels. But copyrights in music can get pretty complicated. For example, there may be several different copyrights in a single music video, controlled by different organisations with different interests. The visual elements and the sound recording of a music video are typically owned by a record label, while the music and lyrics of the song being performed are owned separately by one or more music publishers. These publishers often designate organisations called collecting societies to issue licences and collect royalties on their behalf. In the UK we’ve had a licence from the collecting society called PRS for Music to make music videos provided by our record label partners available to our users in the UK.”

Walker states they are still working with the PRS to find mutually acceptable terms, “but until we do so we will be blocking premium music videos in the UK that have been supplied or claimed by record labels. This was a painful decision, and we know the significant disappointment it will cause within the UK. And to be clear, this is not an issue with the record labels, with most of whom we have strong relationships.”

YouTube muting

In a recent move in the United States, rather than removing the video, YouTube began muting audio tracks which were under dispute. This allowed the comments, rating, links and annotations to remain on the video’s page, along with the viewable content. However, all audio was muted until such time as the account owner could demonstrate to YouTube they had been authorized for use.

TG Daily had also received unconfirmed reports which show direct evidence from one YouTube user that YouTube is not always honoring its muting policies and was, in fact, seemingly randomly re-identifying copyrighted content on videos that had already been demonstrated to YouTube by their owners to have legitimate use agreements in place.