I actually had decently high hopes for Vevo, the partnership between Universal Music and YouTube to create a website for official music videos (currently from three of the four major record labels). I mean, I always figured that eventually the labels would screw stuff up, but I thought it actually had a shot at maybe being useful. The fact that Universal put Rio Caraeff in charge seemed like a good sign as well, since Caraeff seemed like the sort of music industry exec who understood the new marketplace for music, and wasn’t encumbered with the “old ways” of doing things. But rather than a useful site, Vevo has basically been a cookie cutter version of what you would do if the record labels created their own YouTube. That is, it took none of the good parts of YouTube. Hell, it didn’t even take the ability to handle a lot of traffic. For the first few days after it launched, Vevo just didn’t work at all.
Its latest screwup was that it didn’t include its preroll ads in the YouTube API, meaning that others who used the API could access and repurpose Vevo content without the ads, and even show the content outside the US (which Vevo currently does not allow). It didn’t take long for one enterprising startup, Muziic, to do exactly that. Muziic has received some attention for basically using the YouTube API to create an iTunes-like experience out of YouTube videos (it also gets attention for being founded by a 16-year old). Muziic sent out an announcement this week about how it was using the YouTube API to add Vevo content, meaning you could access Vevo videos without the preroll ads and outside the US.
Vevo’s first response? To send a cease and desist. At the very least, it wasn’t a legal nastygram, but a more friendly cease & desist sent by Caraeff himself. But “cease” what? Muziic was using the API as designed, and even though Caraeff admits that Vevo is quickly scrambling to change the API, he still says Muziic needs to cease from using the Vevo logo or referencing the company’s name. But Muziic used the name in an accurate and descriptive manner. It accurately noted that it was now offering Vevo content — without ads and outside the US — all legally via the use of the API provided by YouTube/Vevo itself.
Muziic’s co-founder responded to Caraeff’s email over at Hypebot, saying that he “was as shocked as anyone when I realized there were not yet any “pre-roll” advertisements for Vevo content in the API,” but since it was how the company set up the API, it seems perfectly reasonable to use it that way. He also notes that he had reached out to Vevo prior to this to try to work out an arrangement with the company and got no response.