YouTube Wins This Round In Germany In The Stupid Neverending War With GEMA Over Streaming Rates

from the copyright-insanity dept

For many, many years, the big German music performance rights organization GEMA has been at war with YouTube over what rates YouTube must pay for any streamed music. It started with GEMA more or less arguing that a stream on YouTube was effectively the same as a purchased download on iTunes, and that it should get $0.17 per stream (yes, per stream). For anyone who understands even basic economics you’d recognize that’s not even remotely in the realm of reality. The battle has gone on ever since, and unlike basically every other country in the world GEMA has refused to budge. Because of this YouTube has blocked most major label music from its service in Germany, while GEMA has filed a variety of lawsuits against YouTube in the country arguing that YouTube is somehow responsible for what YouTube users upload.

In the latest round, YouTube scored a victory as a court rightly found that YouTube is a neutral platform and not liable for a user’s uploads. According to David Meyer at Fortune:

On Thursday, the higher regional court of Munich rejected GEMA?s claim for damages to the tune of around ?1.6 million ($1.75 million). If you?re wondering, that figure represents royalties for 1,000 music videos chosen as examples, at a rate of 0.375 euro cents per view. The court upheld a judgement by the lower regional court in Munich, which said YouTube is just a host for uploaded video.

Meyer also notes that GEMA will likely appeal, so it’s not over yet. He also notes, of course, that the rate demanded, while still insane, is at least lower than what GEMA was originally asking for.

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Companies: gema, google, youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Wins This Round In Germany In The Stupid Neverending War With GEMA Over Streaming Rates”

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30 Comments
tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Does Whatever think this is bullcrap, too?

I’m pretty sure Whatever and I couldn’t remain for long in the same room without us ending up in a spitting match, or something comparable.

However, on the other hand, when I think of some commuter sitting on a bus looking for tunes on his cellphone to amuse themself on their commute, $0.17 doesn’t really look all that exorbitant. Yeah, it’s a one time play and when it’s over you’ve got nothing to show for it but the memory, but $0.17? That sounds pretty reasonable. I wouldn’t do it, but I expect a lot of people would.

When a head of cauliflour sells for ten bucks, and a months worth of decent coffee sells for eight bucks, $0.17 to stream a tune sounds like a fairly reasonable deal to me. Yeah, if you’re Google/YouTube and you multiply $0.17 times a few million streams, you’re going to be talking real money and they would damned sure like to avoid the hit, but at $0.17 per stream, GEMA sounds damned near reasonable for once, at least to me.

So I guess I’m a contrarian on this for once.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You might be willing to pay that much to listen to a song once, but I really doubt that YT gets even close to that per stream from ad revenue, which means if they had to pay out that much they’d quickly go broke or(more likely) have to shut down service entirely in that country so they didn’t have to keep paying(kinda like what they’re currently doing, except even more so).

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

It would be nice to find someone who reads German well to go through any annual reports GEMA provides. One is very curious how much of what they collect goes to the actual rightsholders.

GEMA is the cartoon mustached villian poster child for what is wrong in copyright today. They allegedly were created to deal with a problem, yet now they seem to exist only to create more problems while filling their own coffers.

“Because of this YouTube has blocked most major label music from its service in Germany”
Why aren’t the labels suing GEMA? This is interference with their ability to conduct business in Germany. They are at a distinct disadvantage in the marketplace because they are allowing GEMA to run around unchecked.

This is more evidence that the alleged problems seem to be nothing more than fevered nightmares. We no longer have a main outlet used to gain consumers, because we deserve some portion of 17 cents for every single stream (that we give away for free everywhere else). We are pissing off consumers & platforms consumers want to use because a small cabal of people “protecting” us want more money.

Just because you feel you are owed something has a very ugly flipside, what if Google demanded payments from them for putting content on the platform. They could, by the same logical thought processes employed by GEMA, demand bandwidth, storage, electrical costs involved in providing the streams. If Google did this to them they would be screaming so loudly, yet have no problem putting Google in the same position.

It is well past time that they start killing off the regional run insanity factories and start building an intelligent global framework. Copyright is screwed up but mainly because of the meddling of these players who are now reaping what they sowed. Someone needs to get a clue that what they are doing isn’t working and rather than spending a few more million on the same failed ideas of the past they need to get honest input from players who aren’t out to set themselves up their own fiefdoms to line their pockets.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

One has to hope that common sense might win at some point.

The world controls the very platforms the cartels depend upon. Google had the balls to block the major players from even thinking about using YT in Germany, if they start making the global framework insane it is very likely it will collapse as no player will want to allow them access.

One has to hope that it might lead to the death of windowed releases and the death of 1000 rights agencies extracting their parasitic cut. They tell us piracy is costing them billions, what they never mention is how much of those costs are from keeping the parasites alive & feeding.

David says:

Re: Re:

Most proceeds the GEMA collects go to the “artists” minus “administratory fees”. “administratory fees” are of course enough to keep the moloch fed even though they are, indeed, the smaller part of the humongous pie. “artists” are mostly not strictly speaking artists (the majority of which are dead anyway) but “right holders” (who make less trouble cashing their checques), namely labels and possibly heirs.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Which sort of is my point, this rights agency exists only to keep itself alive. If they had gotten 17 cents per and were passing on 2 cents per the labels would be happy because hey new revenue!

And there is a case to be made for the standard rights agency response of ‘Well we collected monies on behalf of these artists, but were unable to locate them to pay them. If you draw a bunch of attention to this, we will spend the money due them in a half assed attempt to find them that will run out of cash.’

That One Guy (profile) says:

Win/Win when you think about it...

For GEMA that is.

If Youtube can be forced to pay the insane fees they’re demanding, then GEMA gets massive amounts of money.

So long as the matter is tied up in court however, Youtube is essentially useless as a music platform for anyone in germany, and without that the options for non-GEMA members to get their music out and be heard is all but non-existent. Want to even think about making money with music in germany? While your odds are poor with GEMA, they’ve ensured that they’re non-existent without them.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Win/Win when you think about it...

Hopefully at some point some bean counter will point out that the income from Germany has stopped flowing. They will investigate and discover it is being caused by GEMA pushing the cartels demands… and then in a few years they might finally figure out that the demands are what is killing them not home taping.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Win/Win when you think about it...

… and without that the options for non-GEMA members …

The way I understand it, you cannot not be a GEMA represented artist. They’ve got “divine right of kings” on their side, or they assume it. They will demand to collect for you whether they’ve ever heard of you or not.

Whether you, the artist, will ever see it is irrelevant. GEMA’s job is to collect, period. If Germany doesn’t like that, their option is to elect other politicians, and pray.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: I loathe GEMA with every fibre of my being...

Created by the Nazi government in the mid-thirties …

Those poor Nazis always get such a bad rap. They gave us the autobahn, and Volkswagen, and kicked out the Kaiser, invented Blitzkrieg, and the 88 artillery, and Panzers. All brilliant stuff.

Stalin was the real mass murderer back then. Hitler and his buddies didn’t even approach what he got away with.

No, I’m not really trying to defend them. Just trying to put it into perspective.

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