Pharrell Williams and other music stars ask YouTube to remove videos or face US$1b lawsuit

Pharrell performing at the Z100's Jingle Ball 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Pharrell performing at the Z100's Jingle Ball 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Video-sharing giant YouTube could face a US$1 billion (S$1.32 billion) lawsuit if it does not take down some 20,000 videos, warned a representative of music stars such as Pharrell Williams, John Lennon and The Eagles.

Music personality manager Irving Azoff, who manages the performance rights of these artists, has set up a new outfit called Global Music Rights to wage a legal battle, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He told YouTube that it does not possess the performance rights for the videos, but the Google-owned website is refuting the claims.

Google is currently in the midst of launching Music Key, a subscription-based music service, to get a slice of a controversial market dominated by Spotify and Pandora. Time Magazine reported Williams' hit song Happy made just US$2,700 despite having 43 million plays on Pandora, while country-turned-pop singer Taylor Swift last month pulled all her songs from Spotify, accusing such streaming sites of not valuing a musician's art.