Google has purchased the copyright management group RightsFlow for implementation on YouTube and other Google properties. The technology will be used to identify the use of copyrighted music and make appropriate payments to the rights holders.
What RightsFlow Offers
If you haven't listened to music on YouTube yet, you're not really a 21st-century person; it's a trademark of our era, and one that's fueled creative mashups and community while royally pissing off the artists who should be getting royalties. Google is working hard to solve the problem by implementing a comprehensive copyright management system on YouTube, and the acquisition of RightsFlow is just one more step in that process.
The RightsFlow database – which houses over 30 million songs from 10,000 labels, according to Mashable – will be used to identify which content is copyrighted, and will likely be paired with Google's Content ID system – the current method Google uses to track that information.
But RightsFlow will go further: It will tally how much is owed to copyright holders and can even expedite the payment. This should stack with Google's existing technology to make rights management easier from both the payment and payee angles.
Fast Payments and Other Applications
Google made an offer to music publishers earlier this year. That offer allowed rights holders to get payment directly from Google based on how much their copyrighted content was used on YouTube. It also gave the YouTube publishers an official opportunity to used that content.
It's pretty clear that RightsFlow is a way to upgrade the current systems for handling that task; Content ID wasn't developed with payment calculation and scheduling in mind. As noted on the YouTube blog announcing the acquisition, "By combining RightsFlow’s expertise and technology with YouTube’s platform, we hope to more rapidly and efficiently license music on YouTube."
Google also has other potential applications for the technology, though. Beyond getting an "in" with the music publishers now using the RightsFlow network, Google will be able to use the tech to supplement the Google Music service and any other music-related facets of Google's diverse lineup of properties.
YouTube does remain the key target in the early phases, though, and that's good news for most of us. This investment should make it possible for guys like me to throw The Bed Intruder Song onto repeat while he takes a nap, ensure that the creators get the reward for their work and incentive for future effort, and allow YouTube to make advertising dollars while avoiding legal trouble. In other word – music to everyone's ears?
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