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YouTube’s Shakedown Cruise Continues

August 30, 2007

Google apparently fed a story to the press that it’s made a deal with the MCPS/PRS, Britain’s combined mechanical royalty collection society and performance rights organization. The MCPS/PRS also announced the deal, so it’s true. The deal as announced is a flat fee for the use of (a) MCPS/PRS members’ works (b) in the UK.

That also means–and this is going to get way, way lost in the sloppy journalism on this topic, not to mention the non-existent accounting systems on YouTube–it DOESN’T cover (a) works of non-MCPS/PRS members (b) in the UK or anywhere else (such as That’s Life), OR (c) MCPS/PRS members’ works (d) outside of the UK (such as in France).

I have seen this reported as a “license” of a “library” from MCPS/PRS. Not quite right. Of course, you want to be careful what you call a “library” around Google, because they’ll start exploiting it, so if it were me, I would choose a different word, such as “repertoire”. That’s a good one, as they likely don’t know what “repertoire” means on campus so they’re less likely to think they own it.

Then again, I suppose authors’ heirs in the UK should feel fortunate that anyone respects them at all, particularly given the way they’ve been treated lately on sound-recordings.

It was also interesting that NO ONE from Google was part of the press release. We’re not distancing ourselves, are we?

Now consider whether both these statements can be true:

1. YouTube doesn’t filter (as they claim); and

2. YouTube will account to MCPS/PRS for song usage on a territory basis—not video usage, but song usage.

In order to do that, they will need a sophisticated filtering system that can tell one thing from another and also the third dimension of where.

I asked these questions of Dr. Eric Twit, CEO of Goggle (that hot Internet startup that filters all advertising) and he had this to say: “Not bloody likely.”

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