Rightsflow, a music licensing service that simplifies the process. Rightsflow makes it easy for someone wanting to use copyrighted music on their website, in the video, or on a album to get all the clearances necessary to reduce your exposure to any future litigation, or even a simple takedown. On the surface, that sounds all well and good, but there's a bit of strategy going on behind the scenes that looks at the bigger picture than just making it easy to pay or collect royalties on YouTube videos.
Over the last few years, music publishers have been pounding on YouTube (which is owned by Google) to do something about the multitude of copywritten songs that have been used illegally on their network. Sure, most of it was innocent, like the 8 year old doing a cover version of Bruno Mars "Grenade," or the family singing "White Christmas," but that's still illegal and publishers want to get paid.
YouTube has always been really good about taking down videos that contain songs that are copywritten when notified by the song's owner or administrator (you can see many examples just in the many videos I've embedded on this blog form YouTube over the years), but that wasn't enough. The publishers wanted more.
The major music publishers waged a war in the courts against Google and basically won, with Google promising to do something about the illegal use of their songs. That's what the acquisition of Rightsflow is all about. Rightsflow asks uploaders to pay a one-time fee of $15 fee to use music and then tracks and pays royalties to the rightful owners. Finally, the publishers and songwriters will get paid.
Is that really enough to make people willing pay though? Probably not, but then again, Google's not expecting that either. This is more about getting the publishers off it's back than anything.
The good news is, if your material is being used without your knowledge in a video on YouTube, you now at least have a chance to be paid something. Don't expect much more than enough to pay for a Happy Meal at Mickey D's though. 15 bucks doesn't go very far, especially with a lot of fingers in the pie.