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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

YouTube sets music video blackout in royalty fees row

YouTube has begun blocking UK users' access to music videos and is blaming the move on a hike in fees sought by the British body that collects royalties for composers and publishers.

PRS for Music, which has been in negotiations with YouTube for several months, has hit back at YouTube claiming it took action yesterday without notice and is punishing consumers and songwriters.

YouTube said it failed to reach an agreement because PRS was asking it to pay an amount that was "many, many more times higher" than the previous licensing agreement.

Patrick Walker, YouTube's director of video partnerships in Europe, wrote on the company's blog: "The costs are simply prohibitive for us -- under PRS's proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback.

"PRS is unwilling to tell us what songs are included in the license they can provide so that we can identify those works on YouTube -- that's like asking a consumer to buy an unmarked CD without knowing what musicians are on it."

Steve Porter, CEO of PRS for Music, claimed he received the call informing him of YouTube's decision only yesterday afternoon.

Porter said: "We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google's drastic action which we believe only punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent.

"Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish 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 between the two parties.

"PRS for Music has not requested Google to do this and urges them to reconsider their decision as a matter of urgency."

The move means YouTube will be blocking premium music videos in the UK that have been supplied or claimed by record labels, though it will take time to go through its catalogue.

"It will not block music uploaded by artists or users.

YouTube said it will continue to work with PRS for Music "to reach mutually acceptable terms for a new licence", but until a deal is reached, the clips will remain blocked.

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