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Musicians target YouTube for pirated songs, low royalties

These days, it is vital for new musicians to get their music online if they want to find an audience. Even though there is very little direct profit from putting your songs on streaming services like Spotify, it is one of the easiest ways of releasing your work to a mass audience, especially young consumers.

At the same time, releasing your Copyrighted music on the internet makes it extremely vulnerable to pirating. One of the most important legal protections against illegal uploads of another’s work is the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This law allows musicians and music companies to ask a website hosting Copyrighted material to take it down.

However, musicians have become increasingly frustrated by DMCA, specifically how it relates to video site YouTube. Singers like Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Billy Joel have called for changes to the law to make YouTube at least partly responsible for the pirated material it hosts.

The issue is the “safe harbor” provision that DMCA provides to hosting sites like YouTube. Artists and music executives want the safe harbor removed. Though YouTube provides a fairly easy way for Copyright holders to get pirated music removed, it is also easy for users to quickly re-upload it.

Many artists are also unhappy with the royalties YouTube pays them. Though some videos get millions of views, musicians tend to make more money in vinyl record sales, The New York Times reports.

If these complaints lead to changes in Copyright law, it could affect your rights as an individual musicians or business. You will need an Intellectual Property attorney who has a deep understanding of IP law and how it is changing.

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