The appropriate soundtrack for the latest music kerfuffle for YouTube (s GOOG) would be “The Sound of Silence,” that is, if they let you hear it. Because of stalled negotiations with the UK’s Performing Rights Society (PRS), YouTube has blocked thousands of music videos in that country.
YouTube posted the following statement on its blog yesterday:
Our previous license from PRS for Music has expired, and we’ve been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us. There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency.
The PRS issued its own response:
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.
The PRS also said that it did not ask YouTube to block the music videos, and that the action was done while the two were in the middle of negotiating.
If all this sounds familiar, it should. YouTube has had a rough go of it with music issues for the past few months. In December, YouTube got into a spat with Warner Music Group (s TWX) that resulted in music from that label being removed from the site. But not all negotiations for the video site have ended in lost content. YouTube reportedly reached an agreement with Sony (s SNE) earlier this year and just last week it was reported that YouTube and Universal Music Group (s GE) were working together on a standalone music site to be called “Vevo.”