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Tess Vigeland: All right. You know how cool it is when you find just the right song to be the soundtrack to that YouTube video you made of your cat? Well guess what. Somebody wrote and recorded that song that you used in your video.

Today, YouTube announced a music-sharing agreement with thousands U.K. songwriters. They'll get paid when their music shows up on the video-sharing site. But a similar deal with U.S. content providers is still a long way off. Janet Babin reports from the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.


Janet Babin: The music licensing agreement is between YouTube and a European alliance that represents 50,000 U.K. songwriters.

According to the Financial Times, YouTube will pay the group a flat fee for any of their songs that show up on its site — even if the music is just in the background of a home made video. The Alliance then distributes the money.

James McQuivey with Forrester Research says YouTube's parent company, Google, hopes this deal proves it respects big U.S. content owners:

James McQuivey: The real purpose here is that YouTube wants to show that they mean to be a good corporate citizen and play along with everybody else.

But that's not the take away for Proskauer Rose attorney Lou Solomon:

Lou Solomon: We're not impressed. It's sort of half a loaf — it's half a loaf, Google Style.

Solomon represents content providers that are suing YouTube over copyright infringement, including the National Music Publishers Association. He says it should be up to content providers to decide if they want to be on YouTube in the first place. Now, you have to negotiate when your content's already up on the site.

Solomon: YouTube and Google are taking their property, or allowing it to be taken, without any compensation. Of course, they're negotiating with a gun to their head.

YouTube has maintained that the law — the Digital Millenium Copyright Act — puts the burden on copyright holders to prove they've been infringed upon. But the company has made some interim agreements with some smaller content providers.

And this summer, YouTube announced it would start using filtering technology to catch copyrighted shows and music.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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