A PRO in Finland complained about YouTube’s low payouts. Now, days before the country celebrates its independence, Google has blocked thousands of music videos in the country. That includes the national anthem.
In 1917, after a century of violent, oppressive Russian rule, Finland declared its independence.
On December 6th, the country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its independence. Citizens will likely play the national anthem in several shops and restaurants across the country.
There’s just one problem: they may not be able to do so on YouTube.
Not just a licensing issue against one PRO.
Earlier this morning, Google began blocking thousands of music videos on YouTube in Finland. People who wanted to watch videos from their favorite Finnish artists would see the following image.
Furious over the unavailability of multiple videos in the country, users took to social media to slam the platform.
In a strongly-worded statement on their website, YouTube responded to the anger. According to the popular video platform, TEOSTO, a local Finnish PRO, had failed to reach a licensing agreement with Google. A post on Google’s support page reads,
“We were unable to reach a new licensing agreement with TEOSTO. Because of this, some videos containing music will be blocked in Finland.”
TEOSTO collects royalties for around 30,000 songwriters and publishers in Finland. It also represents nearly 3 million foreign composers, publishers, and songwriters.
The decision to suspend TEOSTO’s licenses may also come from a longstanding dispute with the video platform. Just two months ago, the PRO had issued a complaint about YouTube’s low payouts to the European Union. As with most PROs and major labels, TEOSTO wants its members to receive fair compensation.
Some Finnish Redditors, however, complained that YouTube hadn’t only taken down TEOSTO videos. According to them, Google has also pulled videos from other foreign artists in the country.
“All of the music videos I’ve checked out this morning are blocked, including Finnish and foreign artists. According to discussions in r/suomi this also affects tons of random videos unrelated to Teosto and public domain content.”
A possible breakthrough
Following news of the licensing dispute with TEOTSO, the video platform issued a statement. Sami Valkonen, YouTube’s Director of International Music Publishing Partnerships, confirmed that the platform remains in talks with TEOSTO.
“We are in active conversations to bring TEOSTO content back to YouTube in Finland. Our previous licensing agreement had expired so videos containing music represented by TEOSTO are currently blocked in Finland in accordance with copyright law. Talks are proceeding on good terms and we look forward to having great music back up on YouTube in Finland as soon as possible.”
Even if TEOSTO manages to secure a deal with YouTube, the videos may not return before December 6th.
Featured image by Nicolas Raymond (CC by 2.0)