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YouTube tackles unclaimed music royalties

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Millions of dollars in unclaimed music royalties in the US will be distributed by YouTube following an agreement with the US National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA).

The payout refers to tracks with unknown owners used on the platform between August 2012 and December 2015.

Publishers who opt in will be sent a list and will then have a window in which to claim ownership.

After that, the remaining unclaimed royalties will be shared among them.

The total amount to be offered has not been confirmed, but was reported by the New York Times to be more than $40m (£31m).

The opt-in period, which opens on Monday, 12 December, ends on 28 February 2017. Publishers will then have three months to make a claim.

The process will be repeated in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for the previous year’s royalties.

“It is essential that we work with digital services like YouTube… 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,” said NMPA founder and chief executive David Israelite in a statement.

Royalties row

YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl wrote in a blogpost this week that the Google-owned platform had paid more than $1bn in royalties to artists in 2016.

But the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said that it was not enough.

“With 800 million music users worldwide, YouTube is generating revenues of just over $1 per user for the entire year,” a spokesman told the BBC earlier this week.

“This pales in comparison to the revenue generated by other services, ranging from Apple to Deezer to Spotify. For example, in 2015 Spotify alone paid record labels some $2bn, equivalent to an estimated $18 per user.”

YouTube tackles unclaimed music royalties

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