Vevo Pulls Videos From YouTube’s API: Party’s Over For Third Parties

So much for sharing Vevo love this holiday season. The much ballyhooed music video site, co-owned by UMG, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Company, has swiftly pulled its music videos from YouTube’s API. The retraction ends a very short run for third-party sites like Muziic, which stream YouTube content via its API, to be able to show Vevo content as well. The news was first reported by NewTeeVee earlier today.

Since Vevo’s launch earlier this month, a selection of its content has been available via YouTube, which built the back end of the site and provides some hosting for it. Although Vevo is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada, the YouTube channel could be accessed by anyone, pending YouTube’s individual country-by-country arrangements with music labels.

It’s no surprise that the Vevo content got pulled from Muziic so quickly: by the time the videos made their way to Muziic, the content had not only lost the Vevo watermark, but it lost advertising from both Vevo and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) too. Not the best example of how Vevo would represent the new world of monetising music video content online. A source familiar with the situation told our co-editor Stace D. Kramer that YouTube is investigating whether or not the site, which has come to its attention before, is violating the YouTube terms of service.

Vevo referred all questions about the API to YouTube, which sent this statement: “Content owners on YouTube can choose where they want their videos to appear, including on mobile devices, IPTVs or even on itself. Our goal has always been to provide content owners with the tools they need to make informed decisions about where and how their videos are viewed.”

So far, neither YouTube nor Vevo can explain if settings in the API affected the branding on the video or stripped the advertising. The two share ad revenue so YouTube, a strategic partner with the JV, also has an economic interest in straightening this out. Vevo’s model includes a syndication network; AOL (NYSE: AOL) and CBS (NYSE: CBS) already have deals that require use of the Vevo player.

David Nelson, the Bettendorf, Iowa-based, 16 year-old CTO of Muziic, told paidContent that he had originally tried to contact Vevo prior to launching the Muziic service, “to create an open channel of communication. However, Vevo managers did not respond.”

But they sure did sit up and took notice when the site went live. Within a day, Vevo issued a statement (via Billboard): “Vevo does not authorize, condone or otherwise endorse, in any way whatsoever, the actions of Muziic which involve our licensed music videos or registered trademarks.” From there, it was only a matter of time before the loophole got shut down altogether.

Muziic has now removed all Vevo videos and Vevo branding from its site.