If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? That’s just what Universal Music Publishing and the French Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM) did: They reached a licensing agreement with YouTube so the video-sharing site can have access to the Anglo-American musical repertoire of Universal and the French society, with all sharing in recouping a percentage of revenue. Universal CEO Zach Horowitz said the deal is a good one because “the digital market can only flourish if creators receive fair remuneration delivered through efficient and innovative licensing solutions.”
YouTube, of course, has plenty of legal battles under way as it copes with pressure from major music companies chafing over how the Google subsidiary provides consumers with so much free music and ways to exchange it among themselves. The company is still battling over copyright infringement claims with GEMA, the German society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights.
The partnership with the French, as Universal describes it, is novel because it “facilitates greater transparency, coordination and data-sharing between the organizations while ensuring equitable compensation for rights holders who are entitled to a share of the platform’s revenues.”
YouTube’s clout in the music industry also stands to grow if it closes a $50-million deal with Vevo; Billboard’s Top 100 also now factors YouTube views in its rankings.
As for the French accord, it’s worth noting that it hasn’t won universal embrace, partly because it covers only Anglo-American content — music written by Americans or Brits; Swedish songwriter, Helienne Lindvall, for example, isn’t covered in this licensing plan with YouTube, even though she collaborated on material with American and British writers.