Concept: Music Rights Made Easy

Yesterday, when I edited and posted this video to YouTube, I chose a piece of music from my collection to accompany the visuals. The composer (Robert Schumann) and the performer (Sergei Rachmaninoff) are both quite dead, but it looks like the recording is still under copyright. In fact, YouTube identified it as such as soon as I uploaded it. I decided not to sweat it, as a) the video isn’t going to have a huge audience, b) I’m not making money off the video, c) Schumann and Rachmaninoff aren’t going to benefit from any proceeds at this point, d) YouTube has much bigger fish to fry than me, and e) it would have been pain in the rear to find a creative commons piece of music of the correct length that I also liked.

That said, I’m a fan of a reasonable amount of copyright. I do believe in paying for the media I personally use. I pay for all my movies and all my music. I believe in supporting the artists that entertain me.

I wish I could easily pay a nominal amount for music rights for the personal videos I post.

I mean, really, how cool would that be? If you are cutting together a video of your kid’s baseball game, and you know in your heart that John Fogarty’s “Centerfield” is the only proper piece of background music, why couldn’t you pay, say, $5 per year to have the video legally posted on YouTube? Or, if you are making advertising money off your YouTube channel, why couldn’t you pay [a somewhat larger amount] per copyrighted song?

Wouldn’t this be better? Copyright owners would make money. YouTube could probably take a small cut and make money. Video creators would be able to use whatever music they want — easily and legally — for a nominal fee. If you’re a video creator that already owns the rights to the music you use, great! Just get a coupon code from the copyright owner and log it on YouTube. If a video creator doesn’t want to pay the license fee, then they can go find or make something that’s not copyrighted.

I haven’t figured out how they’d work with Fair Use, but I bet it could be done somehow.

YouTube already has the music recognition capabilities and the money-handling capabilities. I bet, by adding a pathway to actually pay for these music rights, YouTube would actually be better able to control the unlicensed materials that course through its digital veins.

What do you think?

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