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Streaming video & Artist revenue...

permalink   Wed, Mar 11, 2009 @ 2:04 PM
Two days ago here in the UK, Google unilaterally pulled out of negotiations with PRS, the collection society that represents songwriters and composers here in the UK.

As a result, you can no longer view what Google are calling ‘premium content’ on YouTube - music videos by any artist who was at any time in their career on a major label that have been uploaded by that major label.

Google went straight from negotiations to the press, making PRS look like chumps. PRS have now said that Google wants to pay roughly 50% less for this content. They’ve also said that Google have been underpaying considering that music streams on YouTube have risen by almost 300% in the past year.

So: Google wants to pay half as much, and PRS wants double.

I’m a member of PRS. I felt a bit pissed off today when I couldn’t watch the video for QOTSA ‘No-one knows’ or Laurie Anderson’s (sublime) video for ‘O Superman’ this afternoon (as I took a much-needed ear-break to smooch around on the internet).

What’s going on? Are PRS and Google banging their dicks together to get exactly the same deal they had before? Surely if Google and YouTube want to be legit, they should deal with the structures of copyright legitimacy. But of course, they understand that copyright legitimacy has no place online - you can’t dam the amazon!

Have Google cynically blocked all this content in order to maximise their own profits? Or are they making a point about the licenses that PRS has designed on behalf of the writers it represents being far too expensive and complicated?

Google say it’s the latter. PRS say that Google are employing scare tactics to influence the negotiations. I’d like to know what you guys think.

There’s a BBC story about it all here

CG out. xxx
permalink   Fri, Mar 20, 2009 @ 7:48 PM
The google/PRS aquabble illustrates the problem with rights licensing on the internet. It’s hard to know whom to bless and whom to blame between them. Both sides suffer from the difficulty that the value of streamed rights is anything but clear. This makes setting the fair price difficult. Yet both a video vendor and a performing rights society must see that absent a more rational system, the combination of pirate bay and competing avenues for product will render them both obsolete.

I believe that some form of industry-standard mechanical licensing is a possibility, such as that used to compensate songwriters on a per-disk basis.
Our experience in the US has been negative in the past year or two, however, as industry lobbying resulted in an internet radio pricing scheme designed to kill the indie netradio industry, but for an effective hue and cry which finally reached even the dull ears of Congress. Yet ultimately, rationalizied pricing for the good of the listening public is going to have to find a win-win solution for content creators and for content packagers.

The grandstanding now underway reminds me of a local cable network threatening to pull some channel that shows reruns of “Law and Order” unless their pricing terms are met.

I like youtube, and I support schemes to get artists compensation. At the same time,youtube is not the megalith it sometimes imagines itself to be.
Content is already migrating to individual websites, to artist-run locales, and to independent outlets. The record companies are dinosaurs gasping now. It is not a stretch to imagine youtube itself becoming a dinosaur. Already vimeo and even good ol’ blip are working pretty darn well as alternatives.

So my two cents is that both sides need to quiet down and meet in the middle—-and all of us must realize that video, like music, is a place in which we don’t need these middlemen as much as they think we do—if we only believe and act accordingly.
permalink   calendargirl Wed, Mar 25, 2009 @ 3:57 AM
—and all of us must realize that video, like music, is a place in which we don’t need these middlemen as much as they think we do—

Quite right. I feel that the Google/PRS row has been escalated, leaked and stirred up for this reason - an exercise in self-justification. It’s all a bit sad really! Thanks for your thoughtful feedback G.