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3/9/2009
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YouTube Blocks Music Videos In The U.K.

YouTube's previous license with PRS for Music has expired, and the video-sharing site has been unable to reach a new agreement.

Google's YouTube has begun blocking access to music videos in the United Kingdom, citing prohibitive licensing terms demanded by PRS for Music, a group that collects music licensing fees on behalf of record labels.

YouTube's previous license with PRS for Music has expired, and the video-sharing site has been unable to reach an agreement with PRS for Music about appropriate licensing fees.

"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," said Patrick Walker, YouTube's director of video partnerships in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, in a blog post Monday. "But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our license than before.

"The costs are simply prohibitive for us -- under PRS's proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback," Walker continued. "In addition, PRS is unwilling to tell us what songs are included in the license they can provide so that we can identify those works on YouTube -- that's like asking a consumer to buy an unmarked CD without knowing what musicians are on it."

PRS for Music expressed outrage at Google's action, saying it had not requested that Google start blocking videos from the publishers it represents. It characterized Google's actions as a desire to pay less than it used to pay rather than, as Google describes it, an objection to a price increase.

"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," the company said in a statement.

"We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google's drastic action, which we believe only punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent," said Steve Porter, the company's CEO, in a statement.

Walker said that YouTube continues to work with PRS for Music to reach mutually agreeable terms for a new license. But until that happens, YouTube's viewers in the United Kingdom won't have access to videos claimed by major record labels.


How are other companies trying to make money off of YouTube? InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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