Several major recording companies have signed deals with YouTube and Google, allowing the websites to display music videos online without risking copyright-infringement litigation.
Sony BMG and Warner Music today signed deals with Google to include their music videos on the Google Video site. Internet users can watch the videos for free and Google and the record companies will share revenue from advertising.
In addition, the companies will allow other sites that use Google's AdSense advertising platform to display videos. For example, a fan site dedicated to a particular band could run ad-supported videos from the group.
Google will also sell Warner videos for download from Google Video in the US for $1.99 (£1.07).
Several Sony videos are available to view for several seconds after which users were asked to pay $1.99 to download the video. Advertising isn’t apparent on the site although some videos opened to a screen that read: ‘This video is currently not available. Please try again later.’
Google also said it is working with both record companies to develop a system to allow users to access record company content for use in their own video creations.
Separately, Sony and Universal Music both announced agreements with YouTube to make music video content available on the popular video-sharing site.
The companies said that new YouTube technology would filter out content from UMG and Sony that’s not authorised to appear on the site.
The record companies and YouTube also said that they'll license content to YouTube users who may want to include it in their own content creations.
The deals appear to address recent record company complaints about unauthorised content on YouTube. Some onlookers, including Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff, have suggested that record companies would sue YouTube for copyright infringement and win.
However, while the announcement could fend off such lawsuits, Bernoff warned that any move to remove copyright content will make sites like YouTube far less attractive to users. He also suggested that some media companies would choose not to strike such deals, preferring instead to pursue legal action.