Warner inks YouTube deal despite “difficult circumstances”

Warner Music Group has signed a global licensing deal with YouTube, but the major label still reportedly expressed reservations about working with the video platform. CEO Steve Cooper has reportedly shared an internal memo with WMG that said the YouTube deal was signed “under very difficult circumstances.”

The label has inked music publishing and recorded music deals with YouTube, although Cooper said both are shorter than the usual licensing term. Warner has had several difficulties with YouTube in the past decade, and is most recently voicing concerns about the safe harbor laws that exempt the video service from liability when user-generated and user-uploaded content infringes on copyright.

“There’s no getting around the fact that, even if YouTube doesn’t have licenses, our music will still be available but not monetized at all,” Cooper said in the memo. “Under those circumstances, there can be no free-market ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ negotiation.”

Anna Washenko