Denver-based patent pool outfit MPEG LA, which licenses the H.264 codec, has called upon holders of “patents essential to the VP8 video codec” to join the VP8 patent pool it’s trying to assemble. As some of you might recall, MPEG LA has time and again questioned VP8’s royalty freeness, all along threatening a VP8 patent pool. I guess you are familiar with the "hit the jump" routine.
British songwriter and producer Pete Waterman, now 62-years-old, could never have predicted that the Rick Astley hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" would become a phenomenon some 20 years after he co-wrote it, so it must have come as some surprise to see the song get 150 million plays in 2008 alone. He also couldn't have predicted that so much 'air play' could earn him so little money, yet that's exactly what has happened.
"There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, 'I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling'," Waterman said at a press conference to mark the launch of a website campaigning for a fairer deal for songwriters whose music is featured on YouTube. "I rang my publisher and they said 'You'll be all right,' until I saw the royalty statement. £11. If 154 million plays means £11, I get more from Radio Stoke playing Never Gonna Give You Up than I do from YouTube."
In U.S. currency, Waterman's royalty payment converts to just $16, which hardly seems fair given how much exposure the song has received. The PRS for Music organization doesn't think it's fair either and wants Google and YouTube to pay higher royalties to songwriters for use of their work online.
"We absolutely believe that artists and songwriters should make money from the use of their material," a YouTube spokesperson said. "We previously had a license with teh PRS to enable this to happen and we are very committed to reaching terms so that we can renew our license."
Looks like Waterman got screwed, but we found a way he may be able to collect on those royalties after all. If you're reading this Waterman, click this link.
Garage bands, practiced shower singers, local sensations, and other unsigned artists can now get paid through Last.fm's Artist Royalty Progam (ARP). Last.fm announced the service back in a January, and this week the service went live. More than 450,000 tracks have been uploaded to coincide with the launch, and independent artists who register and upload tunes can start accruing royalties any time their songs get played through the site's ad-supported streaming music feature or Web radio.
Martin Stiksel, Last.fm co-founder, said "This is a bid day for independent artists. We're leveling the playing field by offering them the same opportunities as established bands to make money from their music. The young musician making music in a bedroom studio has the same chance as the latest major label signing to use Last.fm to build an audience and get rewarded. The Artist Royalty Program is another revolutionary step towards helping musicians take control of their music -- and, more importantly, make a living from it."
Click through the jump to find out who's urging indie labels to steer clear of the royalty program.