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October 9, 2006

Google's music deals

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:50 AM

A month ago, YouTube turned industry heads by announcing it had received the rights for its users to use copyrighted content from Warner Music Group. Warner would upload all of its videos to YouTube and let users loose on a free-for-all to do what they wanted with the content. They could use Warner's music in their videos, for example, without fear of retribution.

It was a fascinating deal that seemed to be a boon for both companies. YouTube gets out of what could have been a nasty copyright infringement suit and Warner gets tons of exposure and goodwill.

Imagine the fun people could have mixing Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" video with their own, or competing in a contest similar to Stephen Colbert's current Green Screen Challenge.

Today, Google matched YouTube's deal with Warner and raised it one with Sony BMG.

Right now, Google users can stream Warner's music video collection and buy those online for download for $2 each. Google said it's working on technology that will let users incorporate Warner content in their own videos that they upload. The Sony deal seems a little more conservative -- no talk of selling videos for download, for example -- but it promises to also give users content to play with.

Speaking of Google and YouTube, the New York Times is reporting that Google could announce a deal to buy the video-sharing darling for $1.6 billion as early as this afternoon. Some critics have said that anyone who buys YouTube will be facing copyright infringement lawsuit chaos. The music deals cut seem to take some of that pressure away.

Update: Google did make its move this afternoon, buying YouTube for $1.65 billion in an all-cash deal.

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