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YOUTUBE NAILED FOR "LEGALIZED PIRACY," MICROSCOPIC PAYOUTS

YouTube is taking lots of heat of late.

An op/ed piece in today’s New York Times penned by movie producer Jonathan Taplin, who’s now the director of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, says the Google-controlled colossus is guilty of legalized digital piracy.

“New services and platforms are great for consumers, but our weak laws have allowed them to siphon revenue away from the underlying music, leaving songwriters, performers and the whole industry choking on their dust, Taplin argues.

“YouTube…is now the world’s dominant audio streaming platform, dwarfing Spotify and virtually every other service. Yet it pays artists and record companies less than a dollar a year for every user of recorded music, thanks to rampant piracy on its site (by contrast, Spotify licenses its music and pays $20 per user each year).

“The song 'Drag Me Down' by One Direction appeared on YouTube 2,700 times after the service was asked to take down unlicensed copies. These 2,700 pirated uploads allowed Google to continue profiting from advertising while the artists got nothing.

“The problem has gotten so bad that, in 2015, vinyl record sales generated more income for music creators than the billions of music streams on YouTube and its competitors.”

Taplin then takes YouTube’s search engine to task because it “doesn’t care if your search for the movie Mean Streets or the music from The Last Waltz (both of which I produced) brings up licensed versions or pirated copies: The company sells ads and cashes in either way. Creators, however, get nothing from those stolen copies — except the anguish of watching others grab the value of their life’s work.”

Meanwhile, Music Business Worldwide says that YouTube is paying less than £0.0009 per stream to content providers.

“According to the BPI’s new Music Market 2016 yearbook, 26.9 billion video streams of music (across YouTube and Vevo) were measured by the Official Charts Company in 2015, up 88% on the year before,” Tim Ingham points out. “Meanwhile, audio streams grew at a slightly slower pace. They were up 82% to 26.6b streams. That meant Vevo and YouTube were responsible for more than 50% of all on-demand music streams in the year.

“Here’s the devastating bit. Despite this 88% rise in YouTube and Vevo plays, money coming into labels from ‘pure ad-supported’ platforms rose by just 4%—up to £24.4m ($35.42m).

“It’s very important to qualify this stat. ‘Pure ad-supported’ means platforms which ask no money at no stage from the consumer, so don’t include ‘freemium’ models like Spotify and Deezer.The only ‘pure ad-supported’ services of any note in the UK market last year were YouTube, Vevo and SoundCloud.

“This £24.4m figure is therefore definitely higher than YouTube and Vevo’s combined payout to labels. In contrast, income from audio streaming services – Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, etc.—was up 69% to £146.1m ($212.1m).” 

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