Monday, March 09, 2009

Music Goes Down The Tube

YouTube is to withdraw all premium music videos to UK users after failing to reach a new licensing agreement with the Performing Right Society (PRS).

Consumers in the UK are to be hit hard with thousands of videos on YouTube being withdrawn today. Is it a bargaining ploy by Google’s subsidiary YouTube or a genuine long term back down over payments?

In the UK, the PRS acts as a collecting society on behalf of member publishers for licensing fees relating to use of music. Steve Porter, head of the PRS, told the BBC that he was "outraged... shocked and disappointed" by YouTube's decision and that the move "punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent".

YouTube told the BBC that the PRS was seeking a rise in fees "many, many factors" higher than the previous agreement and had no option but to disclose the move as it would become very visible to users. They also claim that the PRS would not specify exactly which artists would be covered by any new deal.

There are a number of issues to note as a result of today’s action not least is the power that Google and its subsidiaries can exhort and the speed at which it can change the negotiation. Whether the rates requested are fair or unfair the issue is that the service can be taken down more or less at will. We hope those that are involved in the Google Book Settlement are watching and noting. It may not happen year one but could easily happen in the future to books.

We believe that irrespective of the situation and negotiation position that all parties should consider the consumer and an almost unilateral withdraw of services could be seen by some as a return to the negotiation by muscle that happened in the general marketplace of the 1970s.

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