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Taylor Swift piles on music industry's assault against YouTube

The major labels also sign an open letter asking Congress for reform, while they renegotiate their deals with Google's massive video site.

Taylor Swift has complained several times in the past three years that streaming music undervalues the value of tunes.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The US music industry has been beating the drum against YouTube, and now Taylor Swift is falling in step.

Swift has joined an open letter to Congress with 185 other artists, the three major labels, the main trade organization for indie labels and other music industry groups. (Check the full list below. You're sure to find at least one musician on rotation in your earbuds.)

The letter is running as an ad in Washington, DC, news publications The Hill, Politico and RollCall, and it calls for reform of a 1990s law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It doesn't mention YouTube by name, but the campaign is the latest in a series of broadsides complaining about the DMCA for helping create a gulf between how much music plays on YouTube and how much the video site pays.

The DMCA set a "safe harbor" standard for tech companies, freeing them from liability for copyright-infringing posts so long as the company responds to takedown notices. The music industry has complained that's why YouTube can account for billions of song streams but paid the industry less than what the labels made in vinyl-record sales last year.

But YouTube said that nearly all -- 99.5 percent -- sound recording claims are handled by its automated system, not takedowns. It says YouTube has paid more than $3 billion to the music industry total.

The music industry's attack on YouTube also comes the same year that the three major labels are renegotiating their licensing deals with Google's service.