YouTube could be about to lose 20,000 songs, including videos from John Lennon and Pharrell Williams

Emma Haslett
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Pharrell Williams is one of the artists threatening to pull his music off the service (Source: Getty)

There's a fight brewing between YouTube and a group representing 46 artists and songwriters including Pharrell Williams, John Lennon and, er, Ira Gerschwin, which could result in all their songs being removed from YouTube. Let's put it this way: Pharrell is not Happy...

Global Music Rights (GMR) is the company behind the dispute. It was established last year by Irving Azoff - who has managed the likes of Christina Aguilera, the Eagles and Steely Dan - to help artists get the licensing money they deserve.

This week it emerged that the company's lawyers have sent letters to YouTube, demanding that it pulls 20,000 songs off its site because it doesn't have a license to play them.

Google, YouTube's parent company, countered that it does have the right licenses, which it negotiated for its subscription service, YouTube Music Key, which it launched last week.

But the Wall Street Journal reported that the lawyer, Howard King, had written that each broadcast of one of its songs "constitutes a willful copyright infringement".

According to Randy Grimmett, another GMR exec, the company is already in talks with the likes of SoundCloud and Pandora on a new payment model. YouTube is the only one that "hasn't reached out to us".

As the music industry continues to try to work out how to make money from music streaming, battles like this have cropped up increasingly regularly. Earlier this month Taylor Swift pulled all her music off Spotify after a dispute about when she would release her current album, 1989.

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