Why YouTube’s UK Spat Is Just One Battle In The Coming Online Music War

Google’s opposition to proposed new UK music rates, which led to YouTube blocking music videos in the UK this week, may look like just public posturing, as private negotiations continue. But it’s only one instance of what may become an increasingly fractious tug ‘o war between online services and the music business in the next few months.

Almost uniquely, YouTube’s 2007 blanket deal with main UK royalty collector PRS For Music was inked outside of the “joint online license” framework (JOL), through which the royalty society mandates most digital services. But, just as YouTube’s special deal has ended, so, too, the JOL, which was also implemented in 2007, is due to expire June 30. PRS wouldn’t say what will happen after that date — but, behind the scenes, many more services than YouTube alone have been lobbying hard for a new deal.

“Everybody is; the rates don’t allow you to create an economic model that makes sense,” said We7 CEO Steve Purdham, whose site pays 0.22 pence per track transferred under PRS’ online license. Forrester music analyst Mark Mulligan said: “PRS, right across the board, are upping their fees, like those charged to Oldham Athletic for goal celebrations. This had to happen sooner or later as the labels are going to be applying pressure to PRS. But when the YouTube deal is finally sorted, that won’t be the end of it, they’ll be revising the contracts again, this is not the endgame.” Find out why at our sister site paidContentUK