YouTube, PRS clash over UK licence

The IPKat thanks Ross Kay for pointing him to this Reuters UK link to a report by Yinka Adegoke that Google online video site YouTube says it's blocking all music videos to British users after it was unable to reach a rights deal with PRS for Music (the main songwriters' collection society). PRS, which represents the financial interests of nearly 50,000 composers whose royalties it collects, has reportedly asked for "many, many times" more than the previous licensing agreement that has expired. Both sides are busily saying that it's the other side's fault. 

The IPKat notes that, while this dispute goes on, the losers are YouTube users, copyright owners, advertisers -- in fact, everyone.  He looks forward to bringing news of a happy settlement, but that doesn't look imminent if this feature is anything to go by. 
YouTube, PRS clash over UK licence YouTube, PRS clash over UK licence Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, March 09, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. After spending the past few weeks buried in comments from UK-ers (and other non-Americans) complaining about Pandora having to shut down international service, and blaming the US Congress for it, I could do nothing but laugh when I read this.
    Licensing is so broken right now.

  2. I think part of the issue is that of ownership, or rather the disincentive of owning. Why would I buy a CD if I can stream it at no cost (other than the small time cost of clicking off the annoying floating advert).

    Surely PRS must consider whether a deal effectively will reduce income from other areas.

    A further difficulty must surely be that YouTube is asking for something which Napster and others are willing to pay top prices for (as they are subscription-based) whereas YouTube cannot. Alternatively, YouTube gets stuck in an endless cycle of having to police (albeit via notification and take-down) the content when it would be much better to just have top quality licenced content so that there is little point to upload shoddy versions.

    I am sure a deal will be done eventually, and look forward to being able to watch streamed movies over YouTube. Why bother buying a movie (which you may only watch a handful of times) when you can just watch an official stream. Given the power of the algorhthyms, they could even do something like Pandora and recommend films based upon whether I enjoyed the last one it recommended.

  3. In response to Aaron's comment about downloading as an alternative to buying: Perhaps another alternative is to inject some tangible quality to physical music media. It can't escape people's notice that vinyl sales have begun to rise slightly in the last few years (; part of the reason for this is that vinyl has an aesthetic quality and physical appeal which elevates its value above that of the CD - sufficiently so to make owning the vinyl worth paying for the music. Perhaps if the music industry invested some time/effort/cash in making physical media and its packaging something worth owning, instead of simply a paper pamphlet in a brittle polystyrene case, more people might be persuaded to buy. If sales can be revived, the panic-stricken music industry might become more reasonable about licensing fees.

  4. One reason I still buy CDs, or download from iTunes (and other paid-for services) is that the quality of the stream form YouTube is a bit grubby. Also, it's not portable and easily manipulated like you can do using a music player. I use YouTube for two reasons:

    1) To see if I like the music and want to buy it (granted, there is the medium of radio for this too); and
    2) As a search tool for songs I like and want to buy (iTunes isn't always great for searching).

    I wonder how much money PRS members are realistically losing in sales from the existence of YouTube, or is it simply a matter of "broadcast"/streaming rights? Nothing like a good old-fashioned dispute over money :o)

  5. This is the sort of thing that brings the whole copyright system into disrepute. Neither side comes out of it with much credit. Smacked paws all round!

  6. Regarding tangible qualities one should note the Star Wars series which have proven this by having the record for being the most released series. It has been released in numerous versions/editions/collectors edition/series/whatnot and in the process made George Lucas a pretty penny. All this while Star Wars is also heavily pirated and available on TV.

    So yes, it should definitely be possible.

  7. I'm on the side of the PRS for higher rates from the likes of Youtube and Pandora. I don't see why Internet services should pay lower rates than TV stations or radio stations do. All of them are businesses who make money from advertising. When Radio and Commercial TV started out, did we give them Lower rates to halp their business flourish? no. and i don't see why net companies should have that special status.


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