Want more proof that the world of online licensing is rapidly becoming a farce? You got it! YouTube is to make thousands of music videos unavailable to UK internet users after failing to sign a new licensing deal with the Performing Rights Society (PRS).Both sides are, naturally, blaming the other for the decision. PRS boss Steve Porter tells BBC News that he’s “outraged… shocked and disappointed” by the decision, which the PRS claims was made by YouTube without warning during negotiations between the two parties.”Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing,” says a PRS statement.“This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties.”However, YouTube has hit back, with director of video partnerships Patrick Walker telling the BBC that the decision was a “regrettable” necessity, due to the PRS seeking a rise in fees “many, many factors” higher than the previous agreement.”We feel we are so far apart that we have to remove content while we continue to negotiate with the PRS… We are making the message public because it will be noticeable to users on the site.”Videos are being blocked now, and the process will continue over the next two days. They’ll include videos from all the majors bar WMG (which removed its videos from YouTube in a separate licensing disagreement), plus numerous indies.Walker has more to say on the stalemate, saying that “the rate they are applying would mean we would lose significant amounts of money on every stream of a music video. It is not a reasonable rate to ask… By setting rates that don’t allow new business models to flourish, nobody wins.”Certainly music fans don’t: Pandora has already shut UK users out over licensing issues, and now YouTube is doing the same.That’s two methods of consuming music with proven consumer appeal squashed, and while it’s de rigeur to hail Spotify for managing to enthral users while also securing the necessary licensing deals, there’s still a lively debate on how long it can afford to do so.The recent IFPI Digital Music Report made it clear that new ways of accessing music are vital to the industry’s very survival in the coming years. Licensing disputes – whichever side you lean towards – are stopping that process.UK music fans may be losing out as a result of YouTube and the PRS’ posturing, but it’s the music industry that stands to lose out in a big way in the long term. At the same time, these ludicrously hardball negotiating tactics hardly mesh well with Google’s ‘do no evil’ mantra.

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