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YouTube signs music licensing deal with BMG and eight other publishers

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Google has signed an agreement with BMG and eight other publishers that will allow YouTube users to upload cover songs or samples of songs without falling afoul of copyright and will provide advertising revenue to the copyright holders.


Anyone who samples or performs a cover of a copyrighted song, especially a major-label one, in a YouTube video will likely interact with Content ID at some point. The system "fingerprints" tracks and checks them against a blanket agreement with music publishers. If the song is covered in the agreement, YouTube gives the publisher a share of advertising revenue generated by the video. Now, Google has signed a deal that will vastly expand the number of songs available for users. The YouTube blog just announced that BMG Rights Management, which manages nearly a million songs by Adele, David Bowie, Rihanna, and others, has signed what looks like a blanket licensing deal for its music. Eight other labels have joined as well: Christian Copyright Solutions, ABKCO Music, Inc., Songs Music Publishing, Words & Music, Copyright Administration, Music Services, Reservoir Media Management, and Songs of Virtual are now all on board.

Though Google didn't specify the terms of the deal, it appears similar to the one publishers were encouraged to opt into last year, when Google settled a lawsuit with the National Music Publishers Association. Google also has a separate agreement with the big four music labels: Sony, EMI, Universal, and Warner. For Google, these new contracts mean less chance of future suits and the ability to "monetize nearly all of the user generated videos with music on YouTube." For users, it means cover versions or videos that incorporate music should be less likely to be taken down or have audio stripped. It won't, however, resolve some of the problems that YouTube video owners have had with illegitimate claims or seemingly random takedowns.