Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 09:52 UK

YouTube lifts music video block

The issue of copyright has dogged YouTube since its launch

YouTube has lifted a block on users viewing official music videos after the website reached an agreement with songwriters' group PRS for Music.

In March, the service blocked thousands of music videos to UK users after failing to reach agreement over fees.

YouTube, owned by Google, is paying an undisclosed lump sum to PRS, backdated until January and lasting until 2012.

Adam Shaw from PRS for Music told the BBC that he was pleased that an agreement had finally been reached.

"We have 60,000 song-writer and composer members and many of them don't earn very much money at all - 90% of them earn less than £5,000 a year," he said.

"The money we receive is really their living."


YouTube's decision in March theoretically blocked all premium music video content - owned by record labels - in the UK.

However, many fan videos and official videos continued to be available on the site, including some sanctioned by the record labels themselves.
If content owners start to see the video site as just another useful platform rather than a threat, then everyone can start making money
Rory Cellan-Jones
BBC's technology correspondent

For example, EMI-owned Parlophone recently became the site's most popular UK channel of the year, with 240 million hits, despite the ban.

However, YouTube said the "tens of thousands" of videos which had disappeared "will come back over the next few days".

"The music videos are an extremely popular part of YouTube and this deal doesn't only cover the music videos but also music included in TV programmes like the X Factor and also for the inclusion of music in user videos as well," YouTube's Patrick Walker told the BBC.

The deal will also mean that new material will appear on YouTube as the site signs partnerships with other record labels and guest editors introduce their favourite videos.

Pete Waterman says songwriters should get paid properly by YouTube


In the UK, PRS for Music acts on behalf of member publishers as a collecting society for licensing fees relating to the use of music.

At the start of the row Mr Walker told the BBC that PRS was seeking a rise in fees "many, many factors" higher than the previous agreement.

He said the two were "so far apart" that YouTube had no choice but to remove content while negotiations continued.

If the public can access videos for free, and the artist still gets paid then it sounds like everyone's a winner
Richard Hill, Birmingham

At the time, Steve Porter, head of PRS, said he was "outraged... shocked and disappointed" by the decision.

He said the move "punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent".

The Music Publishers Association (MPA) joined PRS in urging Google to rethink, while Lord Carter, who was the UK's minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, also waded into the debate.

Giving evidence before the Business Select Committee, the minister said he suspected a degree of "commercial posturing on the part of both parties" but said the row was indicative of a wider issue.

YouTube is the world's most popular online video site but has been under increased pressure to generate more revenue since its purchase by Google for $1.65bn (then £875m) in 2006.

Services such as, MySpace UK and Imeem have also had issues securing licensing deals in the UK in the past 12 months.

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