This morning, HireCube’s Aniq Rahman alerted us to a major change on YouTube. A growing number of videos now appear without sound and with a notice that these videos contained “an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders.” It looks like YouTube is starting to implement audio fingerprinting software that automatically removes licensed audio tracks. Update: Here is YouTube’s official reaction.

YouTube always contacted its users when it was notified of copyright infringements, but now, it seems like this is an automated process. Predictably, the commenters on YouTube are outraged about this new policy.

The End of YouTube’s Mashup Culture?

Most importantly, this move by YouTube, even though it makes perfect legal sense, might quickly put an end to the culture of remixes, mashups, and parodies on YouTube.

This new policy will also negatively affect a number of services that rely on YouTube for their audio content. Audiolizer, which we reviewed last month, for example, is, on the surface, a streaming music service, but actually gets its music from YouTube’s vast catalog of music videos.

What About the Users?

In the end, this new policy will only alienate YouTube’s users, while doing nothing to help the struggling music industry. It would make a lot more sense for the music industry to provide a blanket license to YouTube so that users could use copyrighted sounds tracks on their homemade videos, while the record labels (or the artists) could get a share of the advertising revenue.