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Facebook reportedly ready to begin streaming music videos

Licensing rights currently prohibit record label artists from running full-length music videos on the site.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is reportedly getting ready to launch music video streaming on its platform in the US next month. The endeavor would represent a direct challenge to Google's YouTube, the ruler of online music video viewing. 

Owners of pages linked to artists won't have to upload or link to the videos, according to materials reviewed by TechCrunch. Instead, a new setting will let them give Facebook permission to add the music videos to their page, where fans can watch them on the page's Videos tab.

Previously, artists under contract to major US labels have been prohibited by licensing rights from sharing full-length videos on Facebook. Instead, they could share only a short snippet of the video.

But Facebook appeared to be working to change that. Bloomberg reported in December that the social networking company was in negotiations with the three largest music companies -- Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group -- for music video rights.

Facebook has been working with record labels to incorporate more music into the platform, a source familiar with Facebook's efforts told CNET, including allowing videos with background music, such as first dances at weddings.

YouTube dominates online free video, with more than 2 billion monthly visitors to its service and more than 500 hours of video uploaded there every minute. And on YouTube, music videos from superstar artists dominate the most viewed videos.

Facebook has long envied YouTube's video might and the lucrative ads that can run with clips. Adding music videos to Facebook Watch could lend the platform more appeal as a video destination, while giving music companies a new online distributor that could challenge YouTube's dominance.