Representatives from PRS for Music and Google will continue discussions following Google's decision to block premium music videos for British users of YouTube. The two sides are in dispute over the rates they are each seeking to secure a new licensing agreement.

Following the March 9 decision by Google to begin removing content as a result of the impasse, Jez Bell, executive director of broadcast online licensing at PRS for Music, had a scheduled meeting with Google in London yesterday (March 10).

"Talks between PRS for Music and Google took place to discuss the licensing of YouTube following Google's sudden decision to block premium video content on the service in the U.K.," said a PRS for Music statement. "The meeting was positive. We are committed to ensuring our 60,000 songwriter and composers members receive a fair deal and that U.K. consumers continue to enjoy music videos on YouTube."

Both sides are due to meet again over the next few days. There are reports that PRS for Music's negotiating position could also cause difficulty for a planned U.K. launch for MySpace Music, while online radio service Pandora decided against a U.K. launch a year ago because it claimed the streaming royalties were prohibitive.

But Andrew Shaw, managing director of broadcast and online at PRS for Music, tells Billboard.biz that their approach is a fair one, and points out that negotiations with MySpace are continuing.

"It's all about the money," he added, stressing the negotiations with Google were not about a new structure to the licensing arrangement. "We're a collecting society, we have an obligation to all our 60,000 members and we have an obligation to all the licensees that we license. It's about how much YouTube pays for the billions and billions of streams, many of which contain music which they deliver to users in the U.K. every year."

The PRS for Music negotiating position is, it says, in line with the ruling of the U.K. copyright tribunal in July 2007.

The PRS for Music joint online license for digital services covers performing and mechanical rights. For on demand streaming, for instance, the standard rate is 8% of gross revenue or 0.22 pence (0.30 cents) per musical work streamed, whichever is greater.

Shaw says it is not simple to express easily what Google should pay because "YouTube is actually a combination of different types of services, some of the content on there is pure music interactive streaming, some of it is general entertainment."

It is not clear yet if this case will require another tribunal. "The copyright tribunal is the course of last resort if a collecting society and a licensee can't agree on the terms of a license," says Shaw. "It's independent and its decision is not only binding on those particular participants, but then sets a precedent for that industry."

Of Google's sudden decision to block content, he adds: "It was strange that we had been in the middle of a commercial negotiation, we never asked them to do this and they sort of unilaterally said 'this is what we're going to do.' And one can only assume that it was to bring some commercial leverage into the negotiations."

Shaw admits their position is different to the licensing deal struck with Google for YouTube in August 2007.

"Well, it is different because we're in a different world now, the digital models are more established, we know how YouTube has put music at the heart of its customer proposition," he says. "We also, on the other hand, know that the copyright tribunal has published what it has deemed fair and reasonable rates to remunerate songwriters for their works. When you put those two things together you end up with a calculation that tells you how much they should be paying."

The copyright tribunal ruled on a 'minima' rate for such services and Shaw points out that Google would pay less if YouTube declines in popularity.

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