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Music Publishers Drop Copyright Suit Against YouTube

Agreement will give rights holders royalties for songs that are featured in user-generated videos

The National Music Publishers Association has ended a four-year copyright infringement battle against YouTube, the group announced Monday.

The legal dispute centered on YouTube's failure to pay rights for music featured in the user-generated videos that make up the bulk of its content.

As part of the resolution, music publishers can enter a licensing agreement with YouTube that will give them royalties for songs that pop up in videos. These publishers will get a cut from ads that run alongside videos that incorporate their compositions, YouTube announced in a blog post.

“We are pleased to have resolved NMPA’s litigation claims and to work with YouTube in providing a new licensing opportunity for songwriters and publishers,” NMPA President and CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “This is a positive conclusion for all parties and one that recognizes and compensates the work of songwriters and publishers going forward.”

“We already have deals in place with a number of music publishers in the U.S. and around the world, and today’s deal offers more choice for rights holders in how they manage use of their songs,” the YouTube post reads.

YouTube’s decision to offer the olive branch to retailers is puzzling in some respects. A federal court ruled last year that the site wasn’t on the hook for any copyright infringements because the company pulled any unauthorized videos after it was made aware of the violations.

Music publishers appealed that decision, but will drop their legal action as part of the royalties-sharing agreement.