Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the music industry is currently squabbling with YouTube over insufficient royalties for the incessant number of music and lyric videos that permeate the site. Although YouTube has paid out $3 billion (via The Verge) in total, that number is basically equivalent to Spotify’s royalties – and they don’t even host music videos. It may seem like an everlasting, winless battle, but record label bigwigs have made a strategic move to ramp things up a bit.

Last month, renowned artist manager Irving Azoff wrote an open letter to YouTube, chastising the site for attempting to divert attention away from their loophole-abusing methods concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In what is known as the “Safe Harbor” provision, websites don’t assume any risk for hosting content that is stolen or illegally uploaded. What Azoff – among other music executives – is really infuriated about, however, is the fact that a user faces no consequences other than the video’s removal. On top of that, the artists have zero control over which of their songs get uploaded under the subscription-based section, or which gets viewed for free. So how does YouTube deal with this? They put all the responsibility on the artists, and force them to send a formal notice for each individual upload of the song. That’s basically impossible.

As a result of this massive discrepancy, the music industry has decided to take the fight to the legislators. Along with a petition signed by thousands of industry heads and artists – world famous and underground alike – numerous executives have publicly made waves encouraging the US government to amend the DMCA. “The DMCA has become a problem because companies that were clearly pirates could hide behind it,” claimed Recording Industry Association of America CEO Cary Sherman. “That’s a Hobson’s choice for any company, they either get some revenue, but way below market, or they get no revenue and spend all their time and money trying to take down all the tens of thousands of illegal copies that are on YouTube.” (via The Verge)

In the current state of social media and the internet as a whole, artists are basically stuck in the middle of a war between corporations. While keeping the Safe Harbor provision would cause sites like YouTube to sustain unlicensed uploads, completely eradicating it would be detrimental to an artist’s internet presence and overall exposure. Meanwhile, neither side wants to compromise, forgetting that the most important opinion belongs to the creators of the art itself.


H/T: The Verge

Image Source: Quartz