Musicians Group, YouTube Clash Over Royalties in the U.K.

Dispute Could Mean Music Videos Are Pulled From Video-Sharing Site

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LONDON ( -- YouTube, the world's largest video-sharing website, is threatening to pull all music videos from its U.K. site, in a dispute with the Performing Rights Society, which collects royalties on behalf of songwriters.

The two sides have been unable to reach agreement on a new royalties deal for music from artists signed to major and independent labels. The previous deal has expired and unless a new deal is reached today, the ban will come into effect March 11.

YouTube's statement reads, "PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our license than before. The costs are simply prohibitive for us -- under PRS's proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback."

PRS's position is that YouTube owner Google wishes to "pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing. ... This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations." The statement also points out that Google "had revenues of $5.7 billion in the last quarter of 2008."

YouTube pulled all Warner content in December after a dispute with Warner Music. San Francisco-based Pandora pulled its U.K. operation in January citing difficulties with the PRS licensing system.

Music videos, of course, are some of the most popular content on YouTube. Among the all-time most viewed are acts such as Coldplay, Leona Lewis and Duffy.

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