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Musical chairs: YouTube, labels close to renewing licenses

Universal Music, Sony and EMI are all in license-renewal negotiations with the video-sharing service, sources say. Preventing piracy is a big issue.

YouTube is negotiating to renew its rights to host music videos from Katy Perry and other top artists.

YouTube is in talks with at least three of the four top record companies about renewing the video service's music licenses, sources close to the discussion told CNET.

YouTube, acquired by Google in 2006, is one of the most popular music services on the Web. Visitors can watch music videos at no charge, and YouTube has also acquired licenses that let video makers insert music into their clips.

According to the sources, negotiations with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music, appear to be going smoothly--and one of the labels, in fact, may have already wrapped up its deal. YouTube has supposedly agreed to increase licensing fees, and at least one of the labels is said to have secured a promise from YouTube to do more to keep people from pirating songs off the site.

It is unclear whether all the labels are seeking greater security from YouTube. Representatives from YouTube and the record companies did not immediately respond to interview requests.

Details about particular security issues in the discussions are scarce. But last month, music-industry lobbyists complained in a blog post that some YouTube music videos include links to illegal copies of songs. The RIAA made the complaint in what it described as a report card about Google's antipiracy issues.

The RIAA also said that YouTube hosts videos that teach people to how to rip audio from music videos to create an MP3 file.

The relationship between Google and the record labels has at times been rocky. Nonetheless, the search company was able to overcome some tense negotiations and managed to launch Google Music, an online music store, with the cooperation of most major labels.