Users, not labels, silence YouTube music videos

YouTube now gives users who post unauthorized music videos the option of having the Web site pull the video or just turning off the sound.

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
2 min read
music copyright

Turns out that the top recording companies aren't responsible for silencing YouTube's music videos.

Here's what YouTube said on the company's blog: people who post clips with unauthorized music to the site can choose to mute the audio rather than have YouTube remove the entire video.

YouTube has for a while given those who post videos that include unauthorized copyright music an option of swapping that music for songs that have been pre-cleared. If they don't like that option then YouTube gives them a second choice between having the video removed or turning off the sound, the company said.

"This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders," says a note from YouTube posted to a video with no sound. "The audio has been disabled."

Representatives from Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group declined to comment.

YouTube's muting policy has been in place for a while. The only reason it's coming to light now is because of the spat between YouTube and Warner Music.

YouTube had licensing deals in place with all four of the major labels. Last month, talks to re-negotiate Warner's deal with YouTube broke down and Warner has pulled out of YouTube. Most of the music being silenced now belongs to Warner.

There's no word yet on when that stalemate might end. At the same time, YouTube is trying to renegotiate deals with the other three labels.

If YouTube can't cut new agreements with the other record companies, YouTube could bring back a new era in silent pictures.