Stories of record labels sicking their legal teams on individuals aren’t new. However, it’s worth noting the skirmish between label-owned Vevo and Muziic because it is unclear if the third-party site did anything wrong.
Vevo, a website owned by three major record labels, holds a massive collection of official music videos. It partnered with YouTube to make much of its collection available on the video sharing site, with ad revenue shared between the companies. Next, Muziic used the YouTube API to provide a new way to access the videos.
Sounds fine, right? The problem is that, when embedded from the API, the YouTube videos contained no advertisements, meaning no revenue for either company. Further, the videos were then available in countries where the Vevo site restricts access. Combine those two and neither Vevo nor YouTube were very happy with Muziic, or its father-son founders Mark Nelson and David Nelson. Vevo quickly decided to pull their videos from YouTube.
The younger Nelson, 16 year-old David, explained the situation to Hypebot:
“I saw the opportunity to innovate using an open platform to create a unique user experience.. so that’s exactly what I did. In doing so, Muziic did not violate any of the terms, policies or guidelines that we are held to as users of the YouTube API.”
According to PaidContent, YouTube isn’t so sure that terms weren’t violated and the video site is investigating.
The arguably bigger issue here is that legal side of using and providing APIs is often not a simple thing, particularly in the world of copyrighted content. If Muziic was within the terms, then it’s a reminder that the use of another’s platform can be subject to not only to the provider but also to their partners.