Google has bought RightsFlow, a company that helps musicians track and manage copyrights on their songs so they can get paid. The YouTube blog portrayed this as an act of solidarity with musicians and rights-holders, talking about YouTube’s “longstanding commitment to solving the really tough challenges around online copyright” and “support of the creative community.”
That’s nice talk, but we suspect the real reason is more hard-nosed than thThat’s nice talk, but we suspect the real reason is more hard-nosed than that. Earlier this summer, Google settled a longstanding lawsuit with a group of music publishers who were upset that amateurs were using songs in YouTube videos without paying for them.
As part of that settlement, Google said it would help copyright holders identify their songs on YouTube so they could get paid for them. Google already had the identification technology — it’s called ContentID. But that’s not as good as stopping violations BEFORE they start. That’s exactly what RightsFlow does. Musicians who want to use or cover a song pay a one-time fee of $15 per song. RightsFlow makes sure that money flows back to the right people.
From the other end, if a content owner discovers a violation, RightsFlow can help Google track down all the owners of all the rights to that song. That can be very complicated, as songwriters, publishers, performing musicians, and record labels might get a cut. RightsFlow has all that information in its databases.
So, buying RightsFlow helps Google make sure that amateurs can keep using music on YouTube by licensing it, which makes YouTube better. And it makes sure that the big publishers get paid so they don’t sue again or withhold content from Google Music or other services.
A smart move all around
(+)via Business Insider