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YouTube pulls two R. Kelly channels after sex-trafficking conviction

YouTube pulled two channels linked to R. Kelly after he was found guilty on all counts in a federal sex-trafficking trial last week, the company said.

However, Kelly's songs and albums will continue to be available on the YouTube Music service, and user-generated content incorporating Kelly's music is still allowed on the main platform.

YouTube terminated the channels tied to Kelly in accordance with its creator responsibility guidelines. The guidelines state that if channel owners are accused of very egregious crimes, the platform can terminate their channels if the content is closely related to the crimes and the channel owners were convicted or pleaded guilty.

Kelly, who has vehemently and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, was found guilty of being the orchestrator of a long-running scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex.

YouTube cited the fact that the prosecution against Kelly, 54, a Grammy-winning R&B singer, was based on the allegation that he leveraged his celebrity and power in the music industry to sexually abuse women and young girls.

Kelly will no longer be able to use, own or create any other YouTube channels, the platform decided. The service will delete a new channel if it is used to re-upload content from a previously terminated account.

Kelly's music is accessible on YouTube's major competitors, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

After last week's verdict, some on social media redoubled their efforts to push the major music streaming services to pull Kelly's discography, arguing in part that it was wrong to provide a global platform — and possible royalty revenues — to a convicted serial sexual predator.

Spotify, Apple and Amazon did not respond to questions about what they planned to do with Kelly's music library and what criteria they might consider for removing the entirety of an artist's work.

Kelly was trailed by troubling accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse for decades even as he climbed the Billboard charts, won Grammy Awards and entered the R&B pantheon with "I Believe I Can Fly" and other smash hits.

But with the rise of the #MeToo movement in , he started to face deeper scrutiny. #MuteRKelly, a grassroots campaign co-founded by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Tisha Barnes, worked to stop his music from being played on the radio or via streaming services.

The campaign has been successful in certain clear ways. Kelly's music is said to have largely vanished from the radio, and songs that were once mainstays of graduation ceremonies, weddings and backyard parties have faded.

YouTube's decision is "the beginning of the seismic paradigm shift of R. Kelly's legacy," Barnes said in a text message Tuesday night. "It was his music that allowed him to buy himself out of accountability. It is my hope that other platforms follow suit and Mute R. Kelly."

But data on streaming platforms suggest that the appetite for his s- and s-era hits has not waned. He racks up nearly 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, according to information at the top of his artist page on the app.

Daniel Arkin is a reporter for NBC News who focuses on popular culture and the entertainment industry, particularly film and television.


YouTube drops R&B singer R. Kelly's official channels

Oct 5 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) YouTube said it has removed R&B singer R. Kelly's channels from its video platform, distancing itself from the singer who was convicted of sex trafficking last month.

R. Kelly was convicted by a federal jury in September in his sex trafficking trial, where prosecutors accused the singer of exploiting his stardom over a quarter-century to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex. read more

Two of his channels, RKellyTV and RKellyVevo, have been removed from one of the world's largest video platforms and the singer will no longer be able to create or own any other YouTube channel, YouTube said in a statement sent late on Monday, following Reuters' request for comment.

The catalog of his music will however be available on YouTube Music, YouTube's audio-streaming service, and the videos uploaded by other YouTube users will continue to be available.

"We can confirm that we have terminated two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines," a YouTube spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.

The MuteRKelly campaign, founded by two Black women in to try to remove the singer's music from the air waves, said on Twitter, "Waiting on you @youtubemusic, and you too @Spotify @AppleMusic @AmazonMusic, etc."

Contacted outside of regular U.S. business hours, Spotify, Apple and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters seeking comment on whether they would be taking similar action over R Kelly's music available on their platforms.

Kelly's music has largely disappeared from radio but is still available on streaming platforms. His hit record "I Believe I Can Fly" was for years a popular choice at graduation ceremonies.

Kelly faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars, and could face up to life in prison at his May 4, , sentencing.

The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is one of the most prominent people tried on sex charges during the #MeToo movement, which amplified accusations that had dogged him since the early s.

Reporting by Jahnavi Nidumolu and Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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YouTube Deletes Two R. Kelly Channels, but Stops Short of a Ban

The video platform said it was enforcing its terms of service, one week after the singer was convicted on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges.

A week after R. Kelly’s conviction on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, YouTube has deleted two of the R&B star’s official video channels, but is not banning his music entirely.

The two channels — RKellyTV and the singer’s Vevo account, which hosted his music videos — were removed on Tuesday in what YouTube, owned by Google, said was an enforcement of its terms of service.

“We can confirm that we have terminated two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines,” Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement.

According to YouTube’s guidelines, it may shut down the channels of people accused of very serious offenses if they have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes, and if their content is closely related to those crimes.

On Tuesday, a news report in Bloomberg quoted an internal memo by Nicole Alston, YouTube’s head of legal, which said, “Egregious actions committed by R. Kelly warrant penalties beyond standard enforcement measures due to a potential to cause widespread harm.”

In the past, YouTube has removed the channels of creators like Austin Jones, who made popular a cappella videos and in pleaded guilty to having underage girls send him sexually explicit videos.

YouTube’s stance may be the first significant action taken by a major tech platform to remove Kelly’s content. But it is not a total ban. Kelly’s music is still allowed on YouTube through user-generated content, like cover versions of his songs, and on Kelly’s “topic” page, which allows streaming of his recordings while a static image of his album artwork is displayed.

And Kelly’s music remains fully available on YouTube Music, a separate streaming platform that competes more directly with audio outlets like Spotify and Apple Music. Last month, Google said that there are 50 million subscribers to YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, which allows viewers to skip ads on videos.

When asked why Kelly’s music remains available on YouTube Music, and why that platform has different creator responsibility guidelines, a YouTube spokesperson said only: “Our creator responsibility guidelines are enforced for channels that are linked to the creator. This is consistent with how we’ve enforced our policies in the past.”

The answer may lie in the historical roots of YouTube as a platform for individual creators, who often operate without a corporate intermediary like a record company, and thus maintain more direct control over their video channels. But for most major recording artists, like Kelly, their record companies supply their music videos to YouTube through Vevo, which is jointly owned by Google and the major record companies.

In , Spotify briefly instituted a policy banning the promotion of artists — including Kelly — whose personal conduct was deemed “hateful.” The policy was rescinded after objections in the music industry that it was vague and seemed to inordinately affect artists of color.

Since then, there has been little attempt to police the content of musicians accused of serious misconduct, to the dismay of many activists. Kelly’s music remains widely available on other major streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music, and has been included on hundreds of official playlists on those services. On Spotify, Kelly’s songs have recently drawn an average of about five million streams each month.


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