Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

Polaris signs YouTube deal, ending video site’s standoff with Koda in Denmark

By | Published on Thursday 1 October 2020


Polaris – the copyright hub that brings together the Danish, Finnish and Norwegian song right collecting societies – has announced a new licensing deal with YouTube. It’s a particularly notable deal because it brings to an end the standoff between the Google video site and Danish society Koda.

Koda – like Teosto in Finland and Tono in Norway – had its own deal with YouTube prior to the launch of the Polaris digital licensing alliance. That deal officially ran out in April, meaning the Danish society needed a stop-gap arrangement while talks continued to finalise the new Polaris/YouTube licence.

The society proposed that its previous deal roll on while the Polaris talks continued, as is quite common in a digital music sector where licences often expire before the next licensing deal has been fully agreed.

However, YouTube didn’t like that plan, insisting that a lower royalty rate should apply during the limbo period. Koda, which unsurprisingly hit out at that proposal, claimed that that lower rate would cut the society’s YouTube income by 70%.

With the two sides not able to agree on a temporary deal, videos on YouTube containing Koda controlled works start to be blocked, with hundreds of thousands of videos reportedly affected on the Google platform within Denmark. But with the Polaris deal now done and due to go into immediate effect, that video-blocking stand-off is now at an end.

Confirming all that, Polaris said that its new deal with YouTube replaces “the local agreements previously entered into by the individual countries. The agreement encompasses a range of music uses including traditional music videos and TV-style content that has music in the background, and cover versions. It covers both ad-supported as well as subscription services”.

The new deal also sees the Nordic societies directly license their repertoires to YouTube in more markets, making them less reliant on reciprocal deals with other societies in other countries. The agreement covers Europe, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia.

Publishers and societies directly licensing their respective catalogues to streaming services in more markets is key to overcoming some of the complexities that make digital licensing on the songs side of the business inefficient and confusing.

Polaris itself points out that by dealing directly with YouTube in more markets, its member societies will have more control over their music, payments should be faster, and fewer commissions will be charged as a songwriter’s royalties flow through the system.