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YouTube yanks music videos from German site

Meanwhile Billy Bragg takes a swipe at Google

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YouTube has blocked thousands of music videos in Germany, after a contract between Google and the country’s royalties’ collector, GEMA, expired on Tuesday.

The free video-sharing site rejected GEMA’s request for an interim agreement to be drawn up to provide one cent to artists for each video played, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel.

YouTube told the outfit such a proposal was invalid, because the Google-owned site doesn’t charge its users to access the content it streams.

GEMA boss Harald Heker described YouTube’s decision to block the music videos of major record companies as a “fundamental clash” between the two sides.

YouTube’s latest move comes just weeks after talks broke down with the Performing Rights Society (PRS), which is the UK’s music royalties’ collector.

UK viewers found themselves on the receiving end of a escalating row last month when YouTube yanked most of its music videos from its site after negotiations with the PRS turned sour.

The newly-formed Featured Artists’ Coalition was quick to respond to YouTube’s latest scuffle with yet another European royalties collection group by declaring its support for the PRS.

“We condemn Google’s use of its near-monopoly to dictate terms to PRS for Music,” it said in a statement.

“We ask them to get their tanks off our lawn and to either accept the decision of the Copyright Tribunal or else negotiate a reasonable offer based on a transparent analysis of YouTube’s advertising revenue income.”

Meanwhile, protest singer/musician Billy Bragg took time out from shouting at bankers to have another pop at Google by writing a letter to the Times.

Ex-Bee Gee Robin Gibb, record producer Pete Waterman and Bragg penned the missive, which accuses Google of cheapening the importance of music in its spat over royalties, and has the support of more than 500 songwriters and musicians.

The three men called on YouTube to reinstate music videos “and pay a fair price for it”. Bragg accused Google of “using its monopoly in the marketplace to dictate terms” to songwriters.

Google, which refuses to reveal how much advertising revenue YouTube pulls in, continues to argue that it cannot charge its users to access the videos on its site. ®

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