YouTube Goes Music, Music, Music

It's just like this, only the radio is a laptop, and everyone's in a different room wearing gym clothes.

YouTube has agreed to pay licensing fees with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which represents about 3,000 independent music publishers (LA Times). This deal is consistant with Vevo’s success, the significant percentage of music videos topping “most viewed charts” and the all-new (see promo video).

YouTube music vevo channel
YouTube "Music" Debuts: click to see promo video

YouTube, friends, is your new radio station, MTV, iTunes, Pandora, Jango, Live365. I’m Sirius.

This advances YouTube’s partnerships with music publishers to “monetize” user-generated videos that contain music written by artists represented by the NMPA. The four major labels (EMI Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment) already have separate licensing contracts with YouTube.

What’s relatively new is that these deals cover synchronization rights on behalf of songwriters. Yes, folks, this means independent musicians singing “covers” of a licensed song will be providing a percent of their ad-generated income to the owner (sorry jaaaaaaa). The terms of the royalty payments, however, are confidential. This, of course, is more than fair. Shouldn’t the guy who wrote the timeless classic, “Never Gonna Give You Up” get a chunk money from the ads that surround Rickrolls?

NMPA agreed to drop its class-action lawsuit against YouTube filed in 2007, but members of NMPA have until mid-September to decide whether they wish to opt out of the licensing agreement with YouTube or continue to pursue legal action against the video platform on their own.



12 Replies to “YouTube Goes Music, Music, Music”

  1. It would be NMPA to go with it.

    They would make a killing off of beenerkeekee19952. I know he’s supposedly “legit” now, but had been shut down a few times, but came back and is still allowed to make videos. That pisses me off.

  2. I understand why and how the “synchronization rights on behalf of songwriter” applies to covers, but what about song parodies? It seems that’s an issue that is a little trickier.

  3. @Turtle: No, parodies count too… The big misconception is that “Fair Use” covers ALL parodies. Totally not the case. Fair Use is really only defensible in a few instances: If the work is being used for educational purposes, for example, or if the parody pokes fun at the work itself (See the whole 2LiveCrew thing). If the parody uses copyrighted music to poke fun at an unrelated issue, like politics, then it’s by definition a satire, and it’s still a violation. Just cause you change some lyrics doesn’t mean the copyright laws go out the window.

    And even if a work IS allowable under Fair Use, it doesn’t mean someone can’t STILL file an infringement suit and TRY to collect. Then you have to go thru the rigmarole of lawyering up and defending yourself, and most of the time, that just ain’t worth the effort for a regular guy like you or me.

    Bottom line is, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, so better to get permission, or in this case, pay the fiddler, and be on your way.

  4. @Slater: So, is “BAD (BRO)MANCE! LADY GAGA SPOOF” by ShaneDawsonTV with 6.2 million views a parody, spoof, or satire? Arguably it’s making fun of the original work, but it’s also possible to argue that he’s just using the original work as a way to do a comedy video that isn’t a direct reaction to the original work. So, does Shane owe Lady Gaga a portion of the money he’s earned from that video if she decides to collect? (I suppose it’s possible that he asked permission before creating his spoof, but considering the amount of difficulty that Weird Al had getting permission to use another one of her songs, it seems unlikely.)

  5. @Turtle: Short answer is: I don’t know. That’s for a court to decide should whoever owns the rights to that song decide to file a suit. My point in all this is that it’s not worth risking all the BS of a court battle just so you can keep a few extra cents-per-view, or however much people make thru ad-sharing on YouTube. (That’s a better-kept secret, apparently, than Area 51).

    Now, if it were MY song, I don’t know how I’d react/respond. There are other factors that make up a legal decision like this, one of which is “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” Which basically means, “How much is this spoof cutting into the owner’s ability to make money on it him/herself?” Lady Gaga, probably not much. The average singer/songwriter might have a much better case. If I was making the kind of income I currently make (i.e. not much), and ShaneDawsonTV was making ANY money from the use of one of my songs, then I’d probably seek restitution. If I had Lady Gaga-level money and fame, then I might be more inclined to let it slide.

    Now, if I were the JUDGE in this case, I’d say that he’s legitimately created a Fair Use-defensible parody of the work in question. It’s about the same subject matter as the real song, only about guys.

    But that’s just me.

    REALLY gray area.

  6. It always feels like walking barefoot on a carpet made of broken glass. I think we should just avoid any contact with anything copyrighted. Very difficult sometimes.

  7. erikRVA – You are right. But Walk on the Regular Carpet instead. Totally Avoid Copyrighted music. Incompetech is really the only source of Truely “Free” Music. I do wish I could donate to him

    I do think that some of the Top YouTubers need to help contribute to him more. I have seen some channels use him music and NOT credit him.

    Parodies are a whole nother story that reach a grey area, but it really comes down to how the Copyright owner(s) react to such a creation.

    I am working on a Video Collab and need people to join me. I have 1 on board. A few have dropped out I guess because it was too much trouble. I just need a 2 min video of someone going through a progression of emotions and a SPOON.

  8. so if you sing a popular song the guy who wrote it gets a piece of your partner income?


    what if you’re not a partner and you sing a popular song, does youtube pay the artist?

  9. Kevin Back in the spring you introduced Renetto’s website and app that showed view counts on various videos and channels. Actually that app because it shows views of all videos unlike the official youtube charts which only show recently uploaded videos, makes your point even much more clearly. Music videos are what people watch on youtube more than anything else.

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