Last.fm founder joins YouTube rights row

The founder of online music service Last.fm has added his two pence in the rights row between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society.

Martin Stiksel has said he hoped that differences could be settled and a "workable solution" found before illegal services start to take over.

He said that he hoped this solution would include cheaper, "less complicated" licenses.

YouTube removed all premium music videos on its site for UK users earlier this week, when it could not reach an "economically sustainable" agreement with the PRS.

However the PRS has said that Google took this action "without any consultation with PRS for Music" and in the middle of negotiations.

Stiksel added: "It has been a bold decision for Google but we are all working in a very competitive environment and the fees need to reflect that".

"It is a fundamental problem that we have been facing in that online music licensing is getting more complicated and more expensive".

The Last.fm founder would like to see online payment for music rights mirror those used by radio.

"We pay each time one user listens to a song or watches a clip and, while that is more accurate because it makes sure the more popular songs get paid more, it is also very expensive", he said.

"Terrestial radio pays a fixed minimum and that works out a lot cheaper".

He added: "We have to find commercially workable rates otherwise illegal services will win and take over".

There has been no announcement that the two parties are any closer to an agreement, but when the decision was made to remove the videos, YouTube said it hoped that they would be back "soon".

However YouTube's director of video partnerships Patrick Walker, has said that the PRS was seeking a rise in fees "many, many factors" higher than its previous agreement.

He added: "We feel we are so far apart that we have to remove content while we continue to negotiate with the PRS".

And it's not just YouTube that's coming across problems. Services including Pandora.com, MySpace UK and Imeem have also had issues securing licence deals for music videos in the UK during the past year.

We will keep you posted.


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