Happy, Pharrell? 6 Things We Learned From the Impending YouTube Music Lawsuit

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.47.15 AM

With YouTube apparently not backing down from music manager Irving Azoff’s threat of a $1 billion dollar lawsuit over the use of almost 20,000 songs from artists managed by Azoff’s company, we got us a full-scale music war impending. Really this is important news because it determines a lot of how digital music will run going forward. But rather than explain all that in paragraph form, we’ve decided it’s more fun if we lay it out in LIST FORM! Yay! So here are six things we learned from the impending YouTube Music Lawsuit:

6. Music Management Companies Need To Go

There is a beautiful collaboration between the artists and the fans right now: we discover their music on YouTube, watch the advertisement, fall in love with the video and buy the song. I’ve done it hundreds of times since YouTube’s inception. It works well. Pharrell’s assortment of terrible hats assures me he is at least getting some of my money. Now Irving Azoff is poking the bear, and there is isn’t a great reason to do so: he wants MORE money. The millionaire with the fancy suits, mansion and cars plural wants to muck with the process because of moneylust. The artists, the people who really deserve the money, could get more money — if they stopped giving a percentage to people like Azoff.

5. YouTube is Being Targeted Because of Their “Attitude”

According to an oddly late story about the whole affair from The Hollywood Reporter, YouTube is being targeted because of their “attitude.” That’s from a statement by Irving Azoff as to why YouTube and not, say, Spotify. YouTube has consistently been the least cooperative company over music licensing, according to Azoff. As such, they are first in the crosshairs. Really this means that if they manage to win against YouTube they feel the other companies will fall like dominos.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.48.36 AM

4. YouTube Is Opt-In Rather Than Opt-Out

Rather than YouTube playing global police over all the content that gets uploaded to their site, they prefer to run their platform like the FCC — that is, they don’t act unless someone complains. And since there is a whole lot of content out there that is constantly being uploaded and re-uploaded, Azoff’s music management company, which manages the works of prolific musicians like Don Henley and Pharrell Williams, would be kept pretty busy trying to constantly lodge complaints about their mass of content.

3. ContentID works in a “millisecond”

If you upload copyrighted music that is on YouTube’s radar, you don’t even have a chance to make money on it because YouTube has already tagged it and re-appropriated any Adsense income towards the registered copyright holder. At least, that’s how it can work. According to Global Music Right’s lawyer, YouTube has the ability to work in a millisecond — but only if YouTube so desires. Which as the previous point states, they apparently usually don’t desire unless it’s beneficial.

2. It’s More About You Than Vevo

See, Vevo is comprised of three major music companies, so it’s not like the music companies are suing YouTube over themselves. Rather, it’s the lyric videos and fan recordings that you post that are causing all this rhubarb. Yeah, YouTube is going to bat with the music companies to protect your right to make shitty videos with other people’s music. Sounds pretty noble of them now, right?

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.42.45 AM

1. Viacom And YouTube Have Done This Dance Before

We vaguely recall something about this, but the current lawsuit has reminded us of the old one. We didn’t remember how all that panned out though (Viacom lost … maybe?), so we decided to revisit it. YouTube basically won in both the first two levels of court, but when Viacom began to initiate an appeal for the Supreme Court, Google decided to settle out of court in March of 2014. Essentially, by burying the issue under the rug instead of letting it run its course in the ultimate court of the land, YouTube/Google has doomed itself to repeating the threats over and over again. It’s got to be hard to be Happy, with this nonsense constantly swirling. Methinks, this time, YouTube lets it ride all the way to the top. Cut the threats off at the knees once and for all.

Share this article because you learned a lot and want others to learn as well. Karma and all that.