The Register ran a story back in 2010 about an alliance of composers and songwriters’ performance rights societies led by Germany’s GEMA seeking a cease-and-desist order against YouTube. At the bottom of the article, it says that although Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” had been streamed 39 million times on the video-streaming service, the artist had only received $12 for his performance share. Since Astley didn’t compose the song, he only receives a performer’s share of the sound recording copyright.
Astley doesn’t seem to have any hard feelings about rickrolling.
“Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it.”
A year prior to that, Peter Waterman, who co-wrote the song, did an interview with The Telegraph, where he revealed that he only made $14 from YouTube for streams of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” “If 154 million plays means £11, I get more from Radio Stoke playing “Never Gonna Give You Up” than I do from YouTube,” Waterman said. Granted, circumstances could be different for Astley and Waterman now, especially considering the video has now been viewed 313 million times, but at the very least the former gets to be in a commercial for Virgin Mobile and be a part of the Macy’s Day Parade.
5) “Never Gonna Give You Up” has been pulled off YouTube before.
YouTube loves the Rickroll. On April Fools’ Day in 2008, the site redirected every video on its homepage to “Never Gonna Give You Up.” But YouTube has also accidentally removed the popular video on at least two separate occasions due to bogus copyright complaints. YouTube operates with a “pull first, verify later” approach, reacting quickly to delete videos that may have been illegally updated. That’s resulted in countless videos being falsely flagged and removed. Not even Rick Astley is immune to it.