Google blocks YouTube music videos in licence dispute
Music fans will no longer be able to watch their favourite videos on YouTube after Google blocked viewings during a dispute over licensing.
Google started to block British viewers from watching premium music videos from tonight but said it will take several days until all professional music videos are covered by the restriction.
The internet giant described it as a "painful decision" which it knew would cause "significant disappointment".
PRS for Music licenses Google to make music videos available to UK users on YouTube but the firms are currently negotiating a new licensing deal.
PRS for Music said it was shocked by Google's "drastic action" which it said would "punish" music lovers and songwriters.
The collection society which issues licences and collects royalties on behalf of copyright holders, said Google wants to pay "significantly less than at present to the writers of the music" while Google said the deal it had been offered would result in it losing money every time a video was played.
A statement from Google said: "Our previous licence from PRS for Music has expired, and we've been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us.
It said "prohibitive licensing fees" were an obstacle in the negotiations.
"We value the creativity of musicians and song writers and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright. But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our licence than before.
"The costs are simply prohibitive for us - under PRS's proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback.
"In addition, PRS is unwilling to tell us what songs are included in the licence they can provide so that we can identify those works on YouTube - that¿s like asking a consumer to buy a blank CD without knowing what musicians are on it.
"We're still working with PRS for Music in an effort to reach mutually acceptable terms for a new licence, but until we do so we will be blocking premium music videos in the UK that have been supplied or claimed by record labels.
"This was a painful decision, and we know the significant disappointment it will cause within the UK."
PRS for Music said it was "outraged on behalf of consumers and songwriters that Google has chosen to close down access to music videos on YouTube in the UK".
A statement from the firm said: "Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing.
"This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties.
"PRS for Music has not requested Google to do this and urges them to reconsider their decision as a matter of urgency."
Chief executive Steve Porter said: "We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google's drastic action which we believe only punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent."
While negotiations continue, Google said it would be working "to create more ways to compensate musicians and other rights-holders on YouTube".
It recently introduced the option for YouTube users to pay to download a song.
"We hope that professional music videos will soon be back on YouTube for our users in the UK to enjoy," its statement added.