Author of Rickrolling song says Google 'exploited' him

Pete Waterman, the man who co-authored "Never Gonna Give You Up," says the song's music video was viewed 150 million times but he made $16.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

The man who co-wrote "Never Gonna Give You Up," the 1980s song revitalized by the Rickrolling phenomenon on YouTube last year, is accusing Google of exploiting him.

The music video, featuring singer Rick Astley, has been viewed more than 150 million times on YouTube but Pete Waterman earned about $16, just enough money to buy a CD.

The cult of Rickrolling helped generate more than 150 million views of "Never Gonna Give You Up" but only $16 for song's author. YouTube

Waterman told U.K publication The Telegraph, that he earns more from local radio than YouTube. He also compared himself to the "exploitation of foreign workers in Dubai."

"I feel like one of those workers, because I earned less for a year's work off Google or YouTube than they did off the Bahrain government," Waterman told the paper.

Several U.K. artists have criticized Google and YouTube for allegedly not compensating artists well enough. YouTube has stopped presenting music videos in Britain because the company says a royalty rights group there is asking for unreasonable rate increases.

"We absolutely believe that artists should be compensated fairly," said a YouTube spokesman. "But how much the artist gets paid is between the artist and the label."

YouTube has also ceased playing music videos in Germany after a royalty rights group there began asking for a rate increase.

Rickrolling was the name used to describe sending links to the music video of "Never Gonna Give You Up" but disguising the name of the link so the receiver wouldn't know it was coming.