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Warner Music coming to YouTube

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KAI RYSSDAL: It's so simple you have to wonder why somebody didn't think of it sooner. Or if they did, how come it never took off. YouTube. It's a website that you can upload videos to. Doesn't have to be broadcast quality. And most of them really aren't. Typical home video stuff. But some of them have really nice soundtracks. In a nod to the bad old days of illegal music downloads. YouTube's been in perpetual hot water with the major record labels for copyright infringement. But Warner Music announced today it'll start licensing its tunes to the tube. From the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin reports.


JANET BABIN: After today's agreement, music videos from Warner artists will be available on YouTube. And, people who post original videos on YouTube will have access to Warner's music catalog.

Say you've just posted vacation video of your Great Dane's first ocean frolic . . .

And, miraculously, Fido's steps seem uncannily calibrated to Madonna's song "Holiday" that you've got playing in the background . . .

Now your video soundtrack could include Madonna without infringing on anyone's copyright. YouTube and Warner will profit by putting some sort of ad reel in with the content.

Attorney Don Passman wrote the book "All You Need to Know About the Music Business." He says the deal could add to record label revenue streams:

DON PASSMAN:"The record business is struggling at the moment and they're looking for other ways to make money, and certainly this could be a good one."

But some record companies remain on the flip side of the copyright equation. Peter Gaston with Spin magazine says Universal Music Group seems to want to keep its content off the Internet:

PETER GASTON:"Whereas other labels are very eager to provide us with streams and digital downloads and all kinds of other new media content, Universal's been very tight about all those things."

The announcement comes just a few days after Universal called YouTube and other online video sharing sites "copyright infringers."

More than 100 million videos are viewed on YouTube every day. And Gaston thinks that's an opportunity for Warner, that other labels should think twice about passing up.

In Durham, N.C., I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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