YouTube agrees to U.K. music royalty deal

/ Source: The Associated Press

Artists from Cliff Richard to Amy Winehouse will be paid when their tracks are used as backing music for clips on video-sharing Web site YouTube following a deal with the British society that collects royalties for composers, songwriters and publishers.

The MCPS-PRS Alliance said Thursday that it will license more than 10 million pieces of music to Google Inc.-owned YouTube for use on the British version of the Web site. Both the MCPS-PRS Alliance and YouTube declined to disclose monetary terms, but analysts suggest it could run into the tens of millions of pounds.

The agreement will help compensate artists for income lost from declining CD sales, but it also provides a defense for YouTube, where major media companies say piracy of copyrighted works is rampant.

Similar interim settlements have been reached in the United States, but Wednesday's deal is believed to be the first full agreement.

The deal comes just one day after NBC Universal and News Corp. gave their rival video-sharing site a name and a trial date, indicating it is closer to a full launch. The companies said the new site would be called "Hulu" and begin a trial run in October. Little had been heard of the venture since it was originally announced in March in response to the rapid growth of YouTube.

Andrew Shaw, the Alliance's managing director for broadcast and online, said the deal with YouTube would cover both user upload and content.

Shaw said that YouTube was in a unique position among broadcasters as it did not have full awareness of content on its site and that it had agreed to explore and implement technology to search out music.

"We do have an agreement from them to put in place various technologies that will allow them to identify music that is being used, to report that back and to make appropriate distribution payments," he said.

Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube said the company has tried to "explore new and creative ways to compensate music creators."

Shaw acknowledged that keeping tabs on the millions of videos available on the site would be a difficult.

The Alliance, which collects royalties for 50,000 composers, songwriters and publishers, will decide how to distribute the revenues to members based on estimated use.

While NBC and other programmers allow some clips from their shows to appear on YouTube, others have a combative relationship with the video-sharing site, saying it encourages the improper reuse of their copyrighted material.