YouTube Gives Videos the Silent Treatment

Do you hear that? If you're listening to a Warner Music Group artist on YouTube, the answer may be no. YouTube is muting the audio tracks from some uploaded videos in an effort to comply with copyright infringement claims made by Warner and other license holders.

Last month, talks between Warner and YouTube fell apart after Warner's demands for better compensation via licensing and advertising agreements were not met. Warner subsequently demanded that all of its content be removed from the site.

YouTube has introduced its new silent treatment as an alternative to complete removal. In a blog post, YouTube explains that the new policy is the latest option for users whose videos are subject to copyright claims. Previously, YouTube would either take the video down entirely or allow users to switch the audio track with a library of pre-approved music using the site's AudioSwap tool.

YouTube now has several examples like the video embedded here, where instead of hearing the smooth tones of artists like Seal, you're greeted with the following notice: "This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled."

Perhaps YouTube is enacting the new policy in hopes that it can resurrect talks with Warner later on. Until then, I fully expect some enterprising YouTube users will take this opportunity to create a new oxymoronic genre: the silent music video.

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