"We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars. How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly." So said Doug Morris, CEO of Universal Music Group, speaking ominously about the highly popular websites YouTube and MySpace yesterday.

Mr Morris believes that the two sites, both of which allow users to post video clips online, are helping people to infringe on the copyright of music labels. But he's keeping tight-lipped on the precise course of action Universal intends to take.

Music analysts are largely of the opinion that these comments – we prefer the phrase fightin' talk – represent mere preliminaries to royalty negotiations. After all, the publicity provided by YouTube in particular is of enormous benefit to the ailing music-industry dinosaur, and the idea of suing either site into financial oblivion would be very much contrary to its best interests.

And while you can sort of sympathise with complaints by the television studios seeing episodes of their shows stuck up on YouTube, music videos are and always have been merely a marketing tool rather than a finished product. It may have escaped Mr Morris' notice, but anyone that wants to get the video of 'Promiscuous' by Nelly Furtado merely has to tape a few hours of The Hits, where it is broadcast approximately 68 times a day.

Let's face it, the big labels just want to have their cake and eat it too, and who can blame them. They want to keep these sites going as a publicity machine, but reckon they can siphon off some sweet, sweet revenue streams, thus paying off the champagne bills accrued making 'hip-hop' videos.

And in the end, isn't that what's important?

[Via The LA Times]