Back in December 2008, Warner Music Group pulled its music from YouTube when the two parties could not reach agreement on a new licensing arrangement. The agreements between YouTube and the major record labels apply to official and unofficial videos, so that move affected regular users who uploaded videos containing Warner Music songs. Those users received takedown notices, and a lot of them were not happy about it. Many created and uploaded protest videos aimed mostly at Warner Music and to some extent at Google for not being able to nail down an agreement.

On Tuesday, YouTube announced on its blog that Warner’s music will be returning to YouTube thanks to a new agreement. YouTube’s statement said that this “new, multi-year global agreement . . . covers the full Warner catalog and includes user-generated content containing WMG acts.” An interesting twist in the new deal is that Warner now has the right to sell the ads that run against its videos, so it will be responsible for finding advertisers and deciding how much to charge them. Traditionally, the labels have made money on a “pay-per-play” basis where YouTube pays the label a fee each time a video is watched. Under this new agreement, Warner and YouTube will share the advertising revenue, but the majority will go to Warner. Warner is also planning to create its own premium content channel to help attract advertisers.

Although Warner eventually worked things out with YouTube, it angered some fans and probably lost some money in the process. Forcing users to take down or change the music in videos that were perfectly legal and permitted when they were made and uploaded may not have been the best idea. For some users, this new deal doesn’t make up for their videos being removed and in some cases their accounts being suspended. Some of them seem hesitant to support Warner in the future, but hopefully Warner’s return to YouTube and this new licensing model will work out well overall for those two parties and for the fans and users.

Allyson Brown

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