RIAA Head: We’ll Never Have A Fair Deal With YouTube Under Current Copyright Law

Streaming video is the best medium for the delivery of music videos, but it’s also a great medium for posting pirated music videos and entire albums. That’s why the Recording Industry Association of America, record labels’ trade group, wants more money from YouTube for music videos that users watch. The problem, the group’s head explains, is that rampant piracy makes it impossible to negotiate with YouTube’s owner, Google.

The problem lies in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the 1998 law that governs online content. In an interview with Re/Code, RIAA head Cary Sherman explained that they simply aren’t making enough money from digital services: while Katy Perry and Beyoncé aren’t hurting for cash, there isn’t as much money to go around for a middle class of artists.

Negotiating with YouTube is impossible, Sherman explains, because of the constant threat of piracy, and the nature of the DMCA, where users can upload things and copyright holders ask the service to take it down after the fact.

Sherman paraphrased Google’s part of the negotiation:

We hope that you’ll find that reasonable. But that’s the best we can do. And if you don’t want to give us a license, okay. You know that your music is still going to be up on the service anyway.

So send us notices, and we’ll take ’em down as fast we can, and we know they’ll keep coming back up. We’ll do what we can. It’s your decision as to whether you want to take our deal, or whether you just want to keep sending us takedown notices.

In other words, labels can accept the deal that they’re offered, and if they don’t like that deal, users will fill the gap and upload their content illicitly.

“We can’t just say to YouTube, ‘we didn’t license this Pharrell song, take it down.’ They will not just take down all 100 copies. They’ll take down only the one file that we’ve identified,” Sherman explained.

Google didn’t respond directly to to these remarks, but YouTube noted in remarks to the U.S. Copyright Office that content creators don’t need to file takedown notices every time that someone uploads the same Pharrell song, since their Content ID service nabs 98% of copyright scofflaws.

Here’s why the music labels are furious at YouTube. Again. [Re/Code]

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