YouTube has signed an agreement with the PRS to bring back music videos to UK users, while the US arm is busy talking to movie companies about setting up a movie rental business.
UK users of YouTube will get the music back in their lives over the next month or two as tens of thousands of videos are brought back onto the site. These will possibly be joined by the latest movies, if reports from the Wall Street Journal are to be believed.
YouTube UK has been, officially, bereft of copyrighted music since March, when the Google-owned service pulled the videos after failing to reach agreement with PRS For Music. YouTube is now stumping up a lump-sum payment for a licence running from January this year (when the last agreement expired) until 2012.
How much that lump sum is we don't know, but we do know that YouTube royalties aren't exactly generous. The NUJ's Freelance magazine reports that one of the (three) writers of Rick Astley's "Never Going To Give You Up" received $12 for his share of the 39 million views generated when that song became suddenly popular: not exactly a retirement fund.
But it's not as though YouTube is bringing in much in the way of revenue, which explains the Wall Street Journal's report that Google has been talking to movie studios about charging users for access to their latest titles on a rental basis.
Google's last attempt to charge users for video didn't go entirely well, but since then Apple, Hulu and the games-console crowd have proved that users will pay for premium video content, and Google's recent acquisition of video-compression specialists On2 could provide a market differentiator if the YouTube brand wasn't a sufficient draw.
It's hard to imagine Mountain View actually billing anyone for anything: it's not the Google way, but if the payments to the PRS and its ilk are going to continue then revenue has to be generated from somewhere. ®