Music publishers still struggle to maintain relevance in an online world, as YouTube's deal with Warner Music yesterday revealed. Some bloggers praised the video site for "getting one record label off people's backs" by helping Warner Music find and veto (or license to) videos using its music.
Thing is, no one was on user's backs about soundtrack music before this. There was the occasional takedown, but nothing on a scale this massive. Most users assume that if they bought the song, they can dance to it on a webcam and slap the video on the Internet. But that's not a right users can buy off the rack.
So why not sell it?
Practically every online downloading system already comes with a Digital Rights Management lock that limits its use. That same technology could mark music as "pre-approved for performance" — a song that users can play with, dance to, re-record, and post to the Internet with impunity. YouTube could check for a simple key, much easier than whatever magic copyrighted-music-recognizer YouTube has up its sleeve.
It's just a hard-coded version of the Creative Commons license — a license that seemed too niche just three years ago, when the process to make a music video was too daunting for the average teen. But everyone's an artist now — and they "steal" songs because they love them, not to stick it to the man as an earlier generation did.
CC is not just a license to steal. A license holder can ask that all derivative works include attribution for the works used. And what crazy-dancing fan of the Numa Numa song would object to adding an iTunes link to "Dragostea din Tei by O-Zone" to their video liner notes?