Indie Labels Strike Back At YouTube

The ongoing dispute between YouTube and the independent music world may soon have its day in court. Just over a week since UK indie trade body IMPALA lodged an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission, the group have confirmed that formal proceedings have begun in Brussels.

IMPALA, along with 19 other global indie lobbies, are alleging strongarm tactics on the part of YouTube — who are readying their forthcoming music subscription service — that are in breach of five European competition rules of conduct, though they did not specify which were breached.

A sample contract issued to indies by the video giant leaked last week, and as The Music Network reports, according to the stipulations therein, YouTube’s demands include giving immunity to users who upload label content to YouTube and relinquishing the practice of sharing content on other services temporarily. Royalty rates could also potentially be reduced for indie labels.

“The formal process has started in Brussels where the [EC] has consistently shown it will take a stance to ensure its competition rules are properly respected,” said IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith in a statement. “This is a crucial moment for the development of the online music market with European services leading the charge. What kind of legacy will Europe give those companies?”

“How does Europe want its artists and consumers to be treated? We look to Commissioner Almunia to take urgent action. It’s red card time.” The EC’s incumbent Competition Commissioner and antitrust enforcer, Joaquín Almunia, has already accused Google of abusing its mass influence.

He authored a six-page letter to his commission colleagues suggesting they investigate the YouTube owner’s “many allegations [and] the various practices that they cover.” If fined by the European Commission, YouTube could face a fine of up to 10 percent of its turnover worldwide.

Gallery: YouTube’s Proposed Indie Label Contract (Enlarge Top Right)

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