YouTube has acquired RightsFlow, a company that helps songwriters, recording artists, labels, distributors, and online music services set up licensing and royalties arrangements.
Announced via a blog post on Friday, David King, YouTube product manager wrote that, “Smart copyright management is an important part of this online video service – it helps songwriters and performers to be appropriately compensated for their works, while also allowing for those works to be used in new ways.”
He went on to say that combining RightsFlow’s expertise (it was set up by two music industry veterans in 2007, one a composer, one an IP specialist) with YouTube’s platform will speed up licensing and make it more efficient. RightsFlow owns proprietary scanning technology, has a 30m strong database of songs and a huge amount of credibility in the industry.
Back in the day, YouTube got into a serious amount of hot water when it came to users uploading material they didn’t own. It subsequently invested millions in the creation of a filtration system called Content ID, which allows rights holders to send YouTube reference files (audio-only or video) of content they own, metadata describing that content, and policies on what they want YouTube to do when it finds a match.
Now, over 3,000 major media companies are using it to protect their content.
But this August, YouTube reached a settlement in a class-action suit involving a group of music publishers who accused the company of encouraging users to upload pirated video clips of TV shows, films, and music videos.
The result was that music publishers were given the opportunity to enter into a license agreement with YouTube and receive royalties for musical works in videos posted on the site.
Google has already put hundreds of content-licensing deals with labels in place to offer music officially on YouTube. We’ve seen artists’ channels become phenomenally popular as a result and they’re now often picked as the place to premier new music videos.
Though YouTube also has agreements in place with major Hollywood and independent film studios to offer streaming rentals, RightsFlow’s fine reputation in the entertainment industry will undoubtedly further this progress – making licensing more accessible to publishers of all sizes in the process.