The National Music Publishers Assn. (NMPA) has announced its newest settlement with a digital music service over unpaid royalties, revealing a deal with YouTube. The dollar amount of the settlement were not disclosed -- a press release on the news says “millions of dollars in previously unclaimed music royalties” -- music publisher sources had previously speculated to Billboard that it could land in the same range as the $30 million payout by Spotify.
The agreement is also meant to help solve the problem of songwriter attribution, so that music publishers and songwriters can not only be paid for works viewed on YouTube where ownership was previously unknown, but also be paid for those identified works moving forward.
“We appreciate YouTube’s willingness to work with us on behalf of the industry to help pay out millions of dollars in previously unclaimed royalties to publishers and songwriters,” NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “It is essential that we work with digital services like YouTube -- the most popular digital platform for music discovery -- to fix the challenge of incomplete ownership information to ensure royalties are no longer unmatched and music owners are paid accurately by the platforms that rely on their work.”
The settlement is arranged as an opt-in agreement, with publishers having from Dec. 12 through Feb. 28 to serve notice. Following that, a three-month window will allow them to claim songs from which royalties accrued -- between Aug. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2015 -- from a list of works supplied by Youtube.
“The revenue earned by the music industry on YouTube continues to grow significantly year over year, and we’re committed to making sure that publishers are paid for the usage of their works on our platform,” said YouTube and Google Play Americas head of music partnerships Tamara Hrivnak in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the NMPA to address the industry-wide challenges associated with identifying publishing ownership on digital platforms.”
The process will be repeated annually for 2016 through 2019. Any unclaimed accrued royalties after the claiming period is over will be distributed to publisher based on their individual market share within Youtube.
If songwriters and publishers do not opt-in, they retain their rights going forward, including the right to sue for copyright infringement, something that some publishers and songwriters chose to do instead of opting into the Spotify settlement.