Home > artist rights > Almunia Stops Monopolist YouTube’s Bullying of Indie Labels: YouTube were against it before they were for it

Almunia Stops Monopolist YouTube’s Bullying of Indie Labels: YouTube were against it before they were for it

July 5, 2014

In a teachable moment for indies who took the YouTube hillbilly deal, news reports tells us that YouTube got a warning from embattled EU-Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia.  Mr. Almunia is already the subject of harsh criticism by a huge number of consumer groups, business groups and Members of the European Parliament over his controversial antitrust settlement with Google and needs YouTube problems like a cold bidet in winter.

According to the Financial Times, YouTube got the message–sort of:

YouTube has postponed a controversial plan to block certain record labels from its video platform, following an outcry from the creative community and growing scrutiny from European regulators.

Two weeks ago, the Google-owned company warned that “in a matter of days” it would start taking down videos from a number of record labels that had refused to sign its new licensing terms.

But the uproar that followed the revelations has prompted YouTube to make a last-minute U-turn. The world’s largest video streaming [monopoly] is allowing more time to negotiate a solution with labels [and will let them eat cake], although it still intends to block them if they cannot reach agreement, according to people familiar with the matter….”They’re back-flipping and backtracking,” said a member of the independent label community.

Trebles all round, right?  Not necessarily.  Like most bullies, YouTube’s negotiator will pull the choir girl routine while matron is in the room, but expect the hair pulling to start again as soon as she leaves.

The point is that Mr. Almunia needs to retain jurisdiction over YouTube and take a close look at all the indie deals, not just the ones that are from members of the WIN alliance’s complaint.  A bully isn’t a bully just when they get caught, they are bullies all the time.

Not only should the European Commission’s antitrust regulators monitor what YouTube does, the U.S. Department of Justice should, too, and follow up on the A2IM complaint.  What A2IM has demonstrated to the U.S. is that YouTube can’t be trusted to follow the law.

And what about songwriters?  Remember, there are two copyrights in every sound recording–the recording and the recording of the song.  This would be an excellent time for the DOJ to investigate not just how YouTube treats indie labels, but also how YouTube treats indie songwriters.

Let’s put it this way:  If the Department of Justice is going to keep songwriters under the government’s thumb for decades with the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, what possible excuse could they have for not doing the same to YouTube for both indie labels and indie songwriters?

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