Feeds

Indie record labels to haul YouTube before the European Commission

Google accused of bully-boy tactics in call for 'formal regulatory action'

Top three mobile application threats

Indie record labels say they will lodge a formal competition complaint with the European Commission over Google-owned YouTube's alleged bully-boy tactics.

The move comes as Google prepares to launch a Spotify-like streaming service using the YouTube brand. Last month, the indie labels' trade associations complained the advertising giant was using strong-arm tactics to force the smaller labels to sign terms for the new service – terms far inferior to those offered to the Big Three labels.

Specifically, the indie groups WIN, IMPALA and AIM alleged YouTube threatened to pull indie music videos from its website if the labels refused to knuckle under.

If the indies can stand up those allegations, then Google faces some serious trouble in Brussels, where the web giant is not exactly flavour of the month.

AIM represents the interests of indie labels in the UK and the US; WIN is a global umbrella group; and IMPALA conducts policy work for indie music in Brussels. The associations set up the licensing agency Merlin seven years ago, which negotiates collectively on behalf of hundreds of indie labels. YouTube chose to bypass it, and approached individual labels with template contracts, independent music sources say.

In a joint statement, the three associations confirmed they are "seeking formal regulatory action and will look to the European Commission (EC) for emergency assistance", adding:

IMPALA, the European independents association, will be spearheading a complaint with the EC. The complaint will include a request for urgent intervention to stop YouTube carrying out any blocking measures or issuing new threats.  Regulatory action is seen as an essential safeguard against abusive conduct and to promote real competition and diversity in the digital music market.

"YouTube is behaving like a dinosaur, attempting to censor what it doesn’t like," said Helen Smith, executive chairwoman of IMPALA.

YouTube's existing video service dominates the streaming music market, and is vital to music discovery – so removal could result in a loss of exposure for artists on small labels.

Our sources suggest that while the major labels were offered significant advances, the indies weren't – and were given a take-it-or-leave-it streaming rate far below the Spotify rate.

Google will want to avoid a long-drawn out legal process that delays the launch of YouTube Music and shines a spotlight on the murky world of digital music contracts.

A press conference is being held today at 1500 BST. More details to follow. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.