YouTube Hits The Mute Button as Royalty Fight With Warner Bros. Continues

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Last month while Warner Music Group and YouTube were bickering over royalties, the label demanded that all their music videos be pulled off the site. Despite the threat, users found many of the label's videos — by artists like Madonna and Green Day — were still available. But now it seems YouTube has a new plan: muting questionable copyright-infringing material.

This new epidemic seems to only affect some of the thousands (maybe millions) of WMG-owned videos on YouTube. For instance, while watching the My Chemical Romance above, you should be hearing "Kill All Your Friends." What you do hear is silence. The video's page greets users with the notice "This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled." Since some MCR videos on YouTube still have their audio intact, it's unclear what criteria the site is using to determine what gets muted.

"Previously, when a music label or other rights owner issued a copyright claim to block audio, the video was automatically taken down," YouTube said in a statement issued after the muting began. "Now we've added an additional choice. Instead of automatically removing the video from YouTube, we give users the option to modify the video by removing the music subject to the copyright claim and post the new version, and many of them are taking that option."

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