The agreement, which coincides with the launch of a Belgium-specific YouTube site, means Belgian musicians will join artists in other areas of Europe in being able to tap into advertising revenues generated as way of compensating them for users uploading works they own the rights to without permission, Google said. Google owns YouTube.
Sabam, which represents Belgian artists and authors' rights groups, has been a vocal critic of online copyright infringement and mediums that it views as facilitators of that piracy. However, the organisation said its licence agreement with YouTube would give artists "fair remuneration" for the use of their works, according to an automated translation of a statement issued by the collecting society.
"Reaching an agreement with YouTube is a significant step forward to new opportunities for our members," Christophe Depreter of Sabam said, according to the automated translation.
"From now on, they will have a fair remuneration for the use of their work posted on YouTube. This is a very positive step for our members and, more generally, for the Internet," he said.
YouTube said the agreement was a "win-win" situation for it and artists. It said artists can choose whether unauthorised postings of copyrighted content are removed from the site.
"These agreements end old arguments about copyright, replacing them with win-win arrangements," Julien Blanchez, Google's marketing manager in Belgium, said in a blog.
"For Europe’s musicians, YouTube has become an indispensable tool in reaching audiences. Artists are compensated when advertisements are displayed against YouTube partner’s videos," Blanchez said.
"YouTube is innovating to help artists protect and manage their rights. Our state-of-the-art Content ID technologies let rights owners identify user-uploaded videos that contain their work and choose, in advance, what they want to happen when those videos are found. They can block them from YouTube altogether, or keep them up. The vast majority of right owners agree to keep their material online - and share in the revenue generated by advertising displayed against it," he said.
Internet users in Belgium will now be greeted by "a wealth of content from their home country" when they access YouTube, Blanchez said. Users had previously been sent to the global homepage for the site, he said.
YouTube has licensing agreements with collecting societies across Europe, including the PRS for Music in the UK.