Copyright Dispute Means Germans Can't See All Those Russian Meteor Videos

from the but-copyright-isn't-censorship dept

You might have heard about last week’s Russian meteor strike. The news, which broke quickly and was so odd that many initially suspected a hoax or even a viral marketing campaign, was rapidly realized as legitimate. Part of what helped the news spread so quickly was a ton of videos uploaded to YouTube very quickly, the vast majority of which came from dashcams in cars — showing the fiery trail through the sky from a variety of different angles and distances. A bunch of publications covered the fact that having a dashcam has become almost a necessity in Russia to use as evidence concerning accidents and to prevent scams, which are unfortunately common.

But, of course, when people drive, they’re often listening to music. And so many of the dashcam videos of the meteor include music playing from car radios. And, as we’ve discussed many times, in Germany, most popular music is blocked from any YouTube video due to a longstanding (and ridiculous) legal fight between YouTube and GEMA, the German music collection society. GEMA wants rates that are simply laughable, so throughout Germany, most videos that contain music get blocked.

And yes, this means that a large number of these videos are being blocked in Germany, as noted by Cyrus Farivar over at Ars Technica.

The text there says:

Sorry, this video, which includes music from SME [Sony Music Entertainment], is not available in Germany because GEMA has not granted the publishing rights thereto.

Amusingly, when Farivar asked GEMA for its response to all of this, it answered (via Twitter):

YouTube blocks apparently randomly.

Which is an… interesting interpretation of that ongoing fight. And by “interesting,” I mean completely wacko. Another part of that conversation included GEMA trying to blame YouTube further for this, and then defending this whole thing by saying:

GEMA is obliged to all users who give of their perceived rights for a reasonable allowance d copyright.

And, apparently, that includes incidentally overheard radio music in videos which have tremendous importance in news coverage.

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Comments on “Copyright Dispute Means Germans Can't See All Those Russian Meteor Videos”

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RD says:

Re: So....

“Or will they chicken out for this article?”

They will chicken out, as always. They have no interest in being answerable to things that are this egregious and clearly bullshit. They are only interested in spreading “piracy is the downfall of mankind!” FUD and anything that pushes for more laws and greater enforcement at the expense of the very public copyright is supposed to serve in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, that is the problem. Google is in an Uries position:

If they give in to the content industries demands for money, they will lose any chance of making a reasonably rentable business.

If they give in to the content industries demands for censorship, they will get sued left and right and lose any chance of making a reasonably rentable business.

If they start to protest by overenforcing the contend industries demands for censorship they will get punished hard by regulaters and the content industries getting shut out will sue Google for their last penny (unless penny gets removed?).

If they give in to the regulaters in EU, they will get squeezed even further by regulators in other countries, making their business a lot less rentable.

Nothing they can do will change that their business will get severely cornered and they will loose a lot of money. Only choice is spreading information and hoping for the best!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The best solution

actually, google does not have much of a choice in this instance if they want to avoid potential lawsuits.

you see, we have this insane part in the laws that gives gema the power it has, that says, unless you can to 100% bring proof that the music in question is not licensed by gema (by giving first and last name, current address and birthdate of the artist/authors whatever else gema demands)it is automatically assumed that the piece in question is licensed by gema.

To make matters worse, even if you bring the information they ask for gema may or may not decide wether it is proof enough or not. And you have to do this for every track in question. And no, proving that the track in question is licensed under creative commons is not enough, it explicitly has to be the personal information of the artists in question.

The reason is, the gema contracts say, that every work of an artist that is listed with gema automatically becomes subject of gema licensing regardless if you wish that in specific cases or not.

It is completely criminal, and extortion racket towards artists and public alike and I hope google can bring them down for good. even though I doubt there is any good chance for it.

Scote (profile) says:

Re: Re: Google does have a choice...but they want to pressure GEMA instead

Actually, actually, Google does have a choice. They can just turn off the audio, as they have done with other videos on YouTube.

It seems pretty clear that Google is deliberately choosing to make a point to German YouTube users by denying them as much content as possible to pressure GEMA into ceasing its ridiculous, overboard demands.

besn says:

the videos are blocked by youtube themselfes, not by GEMA. the reasoning for this is that GEMA wants a certain amount of money (like 0.035 euros) per view so youtube blocks movies they would have to pay GEMA on the grounds that they wait for the courts to rule (which will propably happen somewhere around 2024 or something). As an austrian i find this whole situation hilarious while we have some artist fight for a fee on every harddisk or mp3 capable player sold because … well “think of the poor artists”

mockingbird (profile) says:


couldn’t youtube just block the audio?
not that that would be a good overall functional solution, but might be a temporary legal one.

otherwise, I thought music clips (shorter than X seconds) were generally acceptable, is that not the case in germany?

and, if there is someone talking over the music, or there is a car engine, does that not qualify as transformative work?

just wondering. 🙂

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: alternately..

“couldn’t youtube just block the audio?”

I would guess two reasons, and you have to bear in mind that this is an algorithm picking these up, not someone looking at the video and flagging it – so the context isn’t considered.

The first is that they’d potentially still be liable for any infringement on the video side – which could be anything from edited movie footage to the song’s official video. Better to block the whole thing on GEMA’s request rather than open themselves up to copycat demands from other saying “well you detected the audio why not the video?”.

The second is to mitigate complaints from users. I can imagine that a lot of people would blame YouTube for the sudden silence on a lot of videos, complain that the service is broken, swamp their support or move to competitors. By blocking in this way, they’re clearly saying “we can’t let you see this, blame GEMA”. If they did it any other way, any notice of why the audio was removed would probably be missed or ignored by many users.

“otherwise, I thought music clips (shorter than X seconds) were generally acceptable, is that not the case in germany?”

Possibly not, as a lot of other copyright regimes don’t officially recognise fair use, although I’m not familiar with Germany’s stance.

“and, if there is someone talking over the music, or there is a car engine, does that not qualify as transformative work?”

It should, but the record industry won’t accept that because it might damage a fictional revenue stream.

Nigel (profile) says:


You can hurl an anecdotal “those fucking nazis” out there and not be too far dislocated, if it all, from the truth.

As of November 5, 2012, the German parliament had already received 1863 petitions against GEMA

Who is propping this legacy turd up? They frankly serve no purpose. They are simply part of a long standing institution of bad shit.


out_of_the_blue says:

"No evidence of real harm." -- One of Mike's standard defenses.

I say it applies here more than where he uses it (usually defending Google).

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up at same place!
Gosh, don’t ya just wanna peek ahead at the next exciting re-write? — Well, you can see Mike’s queue if PAY for the privilege!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "No evidence of real harm." -- One of Mike's standard defenses.

Stfu already please. I think I can safely speak for the majority of people here when I say we’re all annoyed by your irrelevant and off topic post, as well as your shots at Mike regarding his defense of Google (which purposefully ignores the numerous articles directly criticizing Google and actions undertaken by them).

You, much like bob, need to do the world a favor and not procreate. I can’t bear the thought of your brand of stupidity spreading beyond your own life.

Prashanth (profile) says:

If musical aliens invade

If aliens were to invade and play human copyrighted music as they started up their super-weapons, I bet every country would do everything they could to research and stop the threat…except Germany, where GEMA would say, “That music is copyrighted, so you can’t look at the videos where flaws in their defenses become obvious.”

Wally (profile) says:

OK….here we go….the videos from Russia concerning the meteorite are public domain…the music put together and produced may not have been…so someone makes a music video using the compilations…that is where I see an issue favoring the ruling by GEMA…

However, the music was purely incidental during a once in a life time event (Tunguska was the previous relative meteorite activity in 1908…GEMA is stupid for pulling the video for that reason.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s impossible to block out specific background noises once a video “goes to print” so to speak. You would have to be a professional on high end equipment to do that…. Most of the videos of the meteorite were produced on smart phones by average people taking a video of it. They would be capable of immediately uploading the video to YouTube after they saw it.

That’s why it’s not logical to do it, because you need specialized equipment to block out just the music on the radio and not everything else.

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Who is going to protest when so many are happy just to be barely making payments on all of their debt?

Want reform? We need to reform ourselves first. Don’t go into personal debt except for a home mortgage. Then you won’t be a slave to some corporation and won’t be afraid to rock the boat.

Note the price of used vehicles, especially atv’s etc…
Know why prices are staying so high for a ten year old toy? Because people aren’t thinking “It cost $10 000” they are thinking “It cost $15 000 after tax and interest on the loan.”

When they are selling with that mentality, think of the value retained on my bike, since it was paid for in cash, with 0% interest and 0 payments forever.

Ninja (profile) says:

The more damage this dispute causes to the public the more hated GEMA and the MAFIAA will be. I say Google should take it up a notch and block everything that might remotely break any copyrights, shower singing and all included and replace with bland, annoying copyright school videos to educate germans on how GEMA is good and helps the artists by blocking access to everything.

Google has all the weapons to throw GEMA image in the garbage. It’s about time they started using these weapons heavily.

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