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YouTube inks licensing deal with music publishers, ending lawsuit

August 17, 2011 |  4:29 pm

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Ending a four-year legal battle with over 3,000 independent music publishers, Google Inc.'s online video site YouTube has agreed to pay licensing fees with the National Music Publishers Assn.

The deal, which covers songwriting rights, paves the way for YouTube and Google to begin monetizing user-generated videos that contain music written by artists represented by the NMPA. The arrangement does not cover the four major music publishers owned by EMI Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, each of whom has separate licensing contracts with YouTube.

"We are now going to be business partners in these videos, and we all get to share in that revenue," said David Israelite, NMPA's president and chief executive.

The contract with NMPA covers synchronization rights on behalf of songwriters. It includes, for example, videos that play covers of a licensed song. Under the deal, YouTube would share a portion of the advertising revenue tied to videos featuring licensed music. The terms of the royalty payments, however, are confidential.

At the same time, NMPA agreed to drop its class-action lawsuit against YouTube. Filed in 2007, the suit alleged that YouTube enabled infringement of songwriters' rights when the online video platform hosted videos that featured copyrighted songs.

Members of NMPA have until mid-September to decide whether they wish to opt out of the licensing agreement with YouTube or continue to pursue legal action against the video platform on their own.

Among the publishers that have not yet joined in the new licensing agreement is BMG Chrysalis, considered to be the fourth-largest music publisher in the world, with a catalog that includes works by Blondie, David Bowie and Michael Jackson.

Related:

Google Inc. in preliminary talks to buy Hulu

YouTube bolsters its movie rental service with 3,000 Hollywood titles

YouTube aims to expand movie service to compete with iTunes, Amazon

-- Alex Pham

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