YouTube has voluntarily started removing the Warner Music Group catalog, stemming from a license contract re-negotiation dispute with the partner. Content is beginning to come off of the site, but taking down a major catalog has proven to be a time consuming process; many videos are still available as of this post. Allegedly, Warner Music Group decided to change the terms in the middle of negotiations that were nearly completed. As a result, Google stated they have voluntarily begun the content removal. Warner Music Group stated that because of inadequate compensation, the content will have to be removed. Who really made the decision is still up for debate.
Music videos are very popular on YouTube – they are the highest viewed content on the site. The problem for Google is they are required to pay for the content each time someone views it, regardless if that content is generating revenue or not. The license Warner granted to YouTube was made in 2006, before Google’s acquisition of the popular site. One could speculate that the monetary terms of the contract were not what Warner had in mind. One could also speculate that if Google is losing money over the content, it’s highly doubtful that they would be willing to offer MORE money to continue their agreement. After all, why throw your hard earned money into the fireplace?
Will Warner’s content return? That remains to be seen. Important to note is all four of YouTube’s music label contracts – Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI and Universal Music Group – are all about to expire in March 2009. Google is currently in negotiations with all of them, and because of the implications they will have on the 2nd largest search engine on the Internet, this is something to pay close attention to. If any of these contracts fail, not only will it have a major affect on what is currently viewed, it will also affect how user-created content will be available as well. No more mom-and-baby dancing to popular songs. No more lip-sync with the hairbrush in the bathroom mirror. Similar to the removal of Project Playlist from MySpace and the blocking of all its widgets, YouTube will start blocking your videos if they contain any copyright-protected music. This is said to begin immediately with anything belonging to Warner Music Group.
What type of videos do YOU watch on YouTube? Certainly you watch my videos made through http://live.pirillo.com, but are you a music video connoisseur as well? What kind of an impact do you think this will make to the YouTube community?