back to article PRS v YouTube: No UK vids, but royalty row runs and runs

The row between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society - which collects royalties for musicians - shows no sign of ending, although talks yesterday were described as positive. PRS said yesterday: "The meeting was positive. We are committed to ensuring our 60,000 songwriter and composers members receive a fair deal and that …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, goodluck with that

    Gougefest 2009.

    After they've worked out how to ass-rape each other without too much complaints from either party, i doubt the wallets of those poor songwriters and performers will see anything from all this.

  2. Andraž Levstik

    Simple solution

    when neither side trust each other stop dealing with each other. Simple as that... If you actually want to work togheter then both agree on a trusted third party that you both provide data and let it sort it out.

  3. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    PRS have already lost

    If the PRS think Google are playing "hardball" by removing content they have no license for (thanks to the PRS) then the PRS have already lost. I can't believe they said that bullshit out loud. Either PRS members want their stuff on YouTube, for a share of revenue, or they don't. They can't just name a price if the revenue isn't there.

  4. Michael Habel

    Was I the only One...

    To think Paul Reed Smith??

    Perhaps I've been playing my Guitar to long.

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    Let the PRS run a web site ...

    that allows people to view material in the way that YouTube did ... and let them pay the royalties to authors/artists as it wanted to do when google did it. There is a hole in the market, let the PRS now fill it.

  6. Daniel Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This should establish who needs who more

    Hahaha I love it when these societies' inflated view of their own importance suddenly meets the cold hard wall of reality!!

    Google vs. PRS - hmm, let me think. Shocked and disappointed at Google's hardball negotiating tactics? What did they expect - that Big G would just roll over and play dead?

    Reminds me of that line in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - "It's a dog eat dog world, and I've got bigger teeth than you".

  7. Ash


    So, the PRS has cake, and Google has a fork. PRS can't eat the cake without the fork, and Google would really like to put that fork to work...

    I guess telling the PRS to choke on their cake and Google to commit seppuku with the fork is too much to ask?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay per view/listen PRS licenses?

    "[T]he PRS is asking Google for viewing figures so that it can do the maths and work out how much its members are owed."

    So when did the PRS license become a per view/listen one? Looks like I'll be seriously considering shutting up shop if I need to log customer numbers and track play counts on the jukebox.

    AC, as I don't want a PRS auditor descending!

  9. Shane Orahilly
    Paris Hilton

    Is it really SO hard?

    "It appears that Google is asking for a full list of PRS members so that it can work out how much it owes the society. But the PRS is asking Google for viewing figures so that it can do the maths and work out how much its members are owed."

    Well, duh - you do Both. Otherwise, how would one be able to trust the other's final figure?

    Paris, in honour of the title, and the vague suspicion that even She could work that out.

  10. Dave Bell

    Obsolete models

    The PRS is a solution to the problem of paying rights holders, in the days when the ability to track every performance didn't exist.

    There are still advanrages in not keeping track of exactly who listens to what. Do you want a politician to be able to get hold of records of who has listened to "Anarchy in the UK"?

    At times. the PRS behaves more like an organisation with the object of employing the staff of the PRS,

    Sometimes the PRS appears to want to become a part of a Big Brother panopticon.

    Are the people who control it the artists and writers it claims to represent, or the accountants and lawyers of the media megacorporations? I'm willing to support artists and writers.

    The PRS might survive. I don't want to live in the world it sometimes seems to promote.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @ Eddie Edwards

    " Either PRS members want their stuff on YouTube, for a share of revenue, or they don't. They can't just name a price if the revenue isn't there. "

    Either YouTube want PRS members' material on YouTube, or they don't.

    YouTube started with a business model that assumed not paying anyone for their material, and their advertising rates was set for that.

    To start bleating now that they don't have enough money to pay their dues... well that's just stupid -- it's their own fault.

    It's like ITV4 turning round and demanding that they get the latest Hollywood blockbusters for tuppence a shot because "that's all they can afford". Tough titties, ITV4! You'll have repeats of Inspector Morse and the classics of the 80s, and you'll like it!

    If YouTube can't afford popular music, they have to either revise their revenue model, or accept that they are a low-rent outfit and will have to put up with whatever cr@p they can afford!

  12. Steve Kay

    Featured Artists Coalition

    There's a news item on the BBC about the new elite union for musicians, the Featured Artists Coalition, who are banding together to kick the MAFIAA squar in the noots. I suspect the PRS may get some collateral kickage.

    Unfortunately for the PRS, Gootube has plenty of unlicensed copies of these "premium" music videos, so the great British consumer isn't really losing out.

    (And what defines "premium", anyway - for me "premium" would mean some lesser known footage of the Sex Pistols)

  13. Christopher Woods

    Oh for crying out loud

    Once again, the industry goes toe to toe with the Foe du jour. this won't bring about any real positive change, it'll just cause yet more hassle for people who already regard all the content on places like YouTube as free (even if the rightsholders want compensation).

    I'd wager that the PRS won't win this one; why can't they just accept this? Getting less licence money than you were asking for is still better than getting nothing whatsoever.

  14. Seán


    "Do you want a politician to be able to get hold of records of who has listened to "Anarchy in the UK"?"

    What if they're conducting a survey about deafness in pensioners, eh?

  15. Samson Chan

    @AC > *Yawn*

    You don't fully appreciate what the PRS have done; it's akin to an Anti-virus company charging you £x the first year, then next year the what £xxxx because your father hit the jackpot! What does your families (or indeed your own personal) wealth got to do with the SERVICE they offer? It's still THE SAME service they offer!

    GooTube has done what the savvy consumer would have done; told the company (the AV co in my metaphor, the stoopid PRS in the Real World) to go and stick it where the sun don't shine.

  16. Chris iverson

    its a pissing match really

    Knowing someone who is involved in the deal between the 2 its really just a pissing match. There is really nothing to see. The PRS wants to extract every cent it can get from Youtube for the views. And Youtube is trying to get bottom feeder prices for content. Either way another week of this and we will probably forget about it till a deal is announced. So let the PR war rage on....

    ...going to get some popcorn to watch this show

  17. Chris

    Who cares?

    We should see this as an excellent opportunity for indie acts to get noticed via YouTube. If I wanted to watch Girls Aloud, Kings of Leon, or other such crap, I can turn on my TV at any hour of the day.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    the PRS

    The PRS has decided that it can claim royalties on music - even that sold under a royalty-free licence.


    (scan for 'Note on UK based websites:')

    To me that seems pretty dishonest.

  19. Dabooka Silver badge

    Who gives a shit?

    Honestly, who actually cares if they can or can't watch music vids on Youtube? I'm not even sure I care about the bigger arguments anymore, it's gone on for that long.

    I think it should be settled like all things Thunderdome; two men enter, one man leaves.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well I think google have made the point that they don't need PRS members material, there are more then enough people logging onto youtube to watch drunks fall down stairs that it doesn't matter a damn to them.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Performing Rights Skank

    It is not fair to equate the PRS with 'PRS Members'. The PRS-MCPS are a UK Government appointed monopoly (but run like a private company rather than a public service) on broadcast royalty collection. If you are a musician / composer, and often if you want to get paid at all for what you do, especially now music is widely seen as being a 'free' commodity, you have to be a member of the PRS (the PRS pays itself by taking a cut of collected royalties). You also have to watch as PRS executives award themselves fat bonuses, cosy up to the big fish in the music publishing industry who have a vested interest in screwing the living out of artists, as well as Govt Ministers , MPs and civil servants, some of whom sit on the boards of music libraries / publishers. Oh, and also pay for the glossy quarterly magazine they send you telling you how amazing they are.

    In the meantime, PRS 'members' have no say in the decisions (usually massively against their interests for reasons explained above) that are made on their behalf, and no choice to join a competitor who will better represent them, as they can in the US.

    That's not to say Google are right in this argument, it's just that as someone attempting to scratch out a living in the music industry, the PRS are the last people I trust to represent me in this scrap.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Google wants to see a list of PRS members?!!?? Once more demonstrating that they no idea whatsoever about privacy and data protection laws.

    The prs are in the right here - the amount of viewers on youtube has gone up exponentially and youtube want to pay the same amount, without showing any viewing figures to prove that the views of music videos have stayed the same.

    Youtube either needs serious funding from Google for this sort of thing, or it's going to go bust.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Youtube's business model is what?

    Like everything else Google does it's all about advertising revenue. Ask anybody working in commercial media these days and they will tell you that advertising revenue is down (they might be lying, but that's what they say).

    Google have always wanted to take everything for nothing (or as little as possible), slap advertising all over it and charge for the advertising. Net result: massive revenue and low spending. If anybody complained they were told they had to allow their stuff to appear on Google or nobody would ever see it.

    All in all a great business model for the way the world economy was working up to about 12 months ago. Now Google are realising that maybe Youtube wasn't such a great buy as advertising revenues aren't as high as projected so they want to pay less than the almost nothing they already pay for content.

    I can see similar scenarios being played out around the world for the next few months as Google regret their purchase.

    Google are an advertising company. I've never met anybody in advertising who isn't a twat. No sympathy from me.

  24. Mr G

    Google have EVERY right to see the list that the PRS covers!

    They are paying for a licence to play certain artists tracks, but they are not allowed to see who the licence covers? You don't pay for a licence without knowing what it involves first. End of.

  25. Elmer Phud

    PRS shoots self in foot?

    These days no-one buys the Bert Weedon Play Guitar In A Week' book, they all watch clips on You Tube to see how thier heroes play.

    PRS depend on these 'heroes' for a cut and also will want a slice of whatever the new musos make. If they stop eager learners from learing all of Saint Jimmy of the Hendrix's best licks then the next stadium rockers will be stillborn and the PRS gets nowt.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is no-one going to make the spurious claim that all music videos are adverts? (See comments page to any previous incarnation of this ongoing saga.)

    Go on, please, please do, because I really want to counter it with the fact that many people who have enough friends to justify having parties now use YouTube as the source of the night's soundtrack....

  27. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    ...and what about the VPL?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @excellent opportunity for indie acts

    Like this?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not just Youtube...

    There was a report on the radio at lunch time that a number of Supermarket chains in Ireland are cutting the EUR 250k fee that they've been paying to PPI (Phonograpic Performance Ireland) for a license that allows them to play chart hits in their shops, and switching to royalty free "muzak" instead.

    The other approach that Yotube could take would be to publish a list of how much each artist should have received, based on their calculations of how much they paid PRS, and watch the shit hit the fan when musicians get public confirmation of how badly they're being screwed by the PRS.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @the PRS

    As manager of a local choir that uses material of our members, one is the local poet, set to music by our accompanist and typeset and printed by myself, I have no liking for the PRS. We are charged large fees for every concert we give, even in the old peoples homes, and have never seen anything back from them. The sooner the PRS is disbanded the better for us.

  31. John Sinclair

    WE write the songs not them.

    I'm sick to the back teeth hearing about how "the song wrote itself in ten minutes" and then being asked to pay these greedy swines for the next fifty years. It's about time these song writers were told it like it really is, WE write the songs and they pick it up from the aether. I don't know about you but I don't think people should pay their aerials just because they pick something up from the airwaves so why should we pay these people just because they are better at picking things up than you or me? Maybe Google should try that tack with these greed soaked morons who sell the songs that came to them looking for a decent father or mother and found themselves being sold to the highest bidder. Would Robbie Williams sell his kids into slavery? Probably.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A piss-poor version of All About Eve about 20 years late, isn't youtube great.

  33. Martin Silver badge

    @PRS shoots self in foot

    The PRS charges guitar shops in case somebody plays a chord by one of their members while testing a new guitar.

  34. Mike G

    PRS are lazy & crooked assclowns

    PRS are crooked scum. I used to run a nightclub that played only alternative and underground music, yet got a letter demanding payment from them stating their operative had monitored a night in the club (playlist supplied had a random assortment of kylie/chart music that would never get played) with a headcount of 2x the real figure for the night in question. Basically they lazilly agregate as much royalties as possible to large artists (through other practices such as 'radio sampling days' and other such bullshit) while ignoring non commercial music unless they can use it as a means of extortion.

  35. kain preacher Silver badge

    PRS 400 pound gorilla

    So the PRS thinks th at they are they 400 pound gorilla that can bully any one .They walk up to Google and slap them in the face only to find out that Google is an 800 pound gorilla thats not going take PRS crap.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @me @mycho

    Maybe that was a bit harsh...

  37. Shakje

    Re: *Yawn*

    "Go on, please, please do, because I really want to counter it with the fact that many people who have enough friends to justify having parties now use YouTube as the source of the night's soundtrack...."


    Are you for real? If you're too much of a twat to see how wrong this is you need help, however I'll give you a little hand. People come round to mine, I stick on a CD, some people will go "oh, I like that, I'll buy it", some people will go, "oh i like that, i'll buy and download the track", and some won't care, they'll just come across to my house to listen to it. Now I already hear you saying "but YouTube isn't like that! It's free! WAH!" You see the great thing is, if I've bought a track that I like, I can find it on YouTube and point some mates at it, of which a few might buy it. Or if I've heard a track I like and I'm not sure what it's called, I can find it on YouTube and then buy it, or if I want to look for remixes, I can usually find the one I want on YouTube.

    While it goes against your grain that something for free can actually have positive effects on sales, it's true, and if you opened your mind for a moment instead of reacting with utter revulsion at something you don't understand you might see that.

  38. jharek

    royalties are unfair

    i dont see a reason why musicians should get a royalty for every time a song is played, no one pays Ford every time a car is driven. Musicians get paid by the record label, who make money from selling cds in shops and videos to cable channels, it seems to me that theyve had it good with this royalty scam for far too long

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Google PRS

    Could Google not create it's own PRS type service, whereby artists submit their own content to Youtube, and receive a % amount based on the views, thus cutting out the PRS altogether?

    Less costing for Google/Youtube, more money into the hands of the artists.

    Although I'm sure the PRS has artists restricted from entering into some agreement like this.

  40. Paul

    View counters...

    ...are inaccurate, though - how many people watch entire videos? Not all of 'em.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...have videos got to do with music anyway.... can't remember the last time I was impressed by a video... sometime back in 1982 probably...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ford may not get paid for each time a car is driven, but your analogy is more applicable to renting a car when the rental company would get paid every time. If a privately owned Ford car is driven Ford don't get any cash, but if a privately owned CD is played, the copright holder gets nothing. Also, if a Ford car is resold, Ford don't get any cash, but if you resell a CD the artist doesn't get any more money.

  43. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: wtf....

    Yeah, everything's rubbish, isn't it? Nothing's been good since I was five and I looked at a small willow-pattern plate and thought it was alright. Come friendly bombs, that's what I say. The sooner I'm freed from having to loathe everything, the better.

  44. peter

    Wanting cake and eating it too.

    "Google pulled the plug on UK access to most YouTube videos on Monday. It said it was "shocked and disappointed" at Google's hardball negotiating stance...........For its part YouTube said its existing licence with the PRS had ended."

    So PRS expectes loads-a-dosh for the privilege of playing its Intellectual sorry songs for which they give you a licence. Then when the licence runs out they are shocked and disappointed that their songs no longer get played??????? Is that not what the licence says?

    Am I right in thinking that PRS rely on UTube as very important tool in getting their songs out to the youf of today............just as long as they pay a stinking load of cash as well. Has PRS asked themselves who is providing whom a service? Obviously not.

  45. rob hindle

    Rights free internet radio cahnnel?

    PRS phones every business it can identify in UK and asks if they have a PRS license for listening to the radio at work. I've come across a couple of small businesses locally (a sandwhich shop that opens 2-3 hours a day for example) who've been done.

    example: a charity in Astley, Wigan were told they needed a licence costing £230 p.a. to play music in their kitchen.

    Is there an internet radio channel that plays exclusively non-PRS music, give those young struggling unsigned new musicians some air-time or old recordings out of copyright?

    Small business has it hard enough already, especially just now - I wonder how much of the money PRS gets this way is gobbled up in "admin fees" and how much gets to musicians. PRS' highest-paid director received £425,000 in 2007. They reportedly spent about that much on a new logo recently.

    If I listen to the radio at work I expect the broadcaster to have paid musician's royalties - fair enough but it seems like PRS wants to charge twice, once for broadcasting and then again for listening.

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