YouTube Finally Buries The Hatchet With GEMA, Meaning People In Germany Can Watch Videos Again

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

Almost four years after we noted that the fight between German collection society GEMA and YouTube had gone on way too long, it looks like it’s finally been settled. If you don’t know, way back when, GEMA, which is effectively a mandatory copyright royalty collector in Germany, demanded insane rates for any music streaming on YouTube. Apparently, it initially argued that a stream on YouTube was no different than a purchase on iTunes, and thus it should be paid the same rate. In 2009, it asked for 17 cents per video view (which was a decrease from the 37.5 cents per stream it had asked for earlier). 17 cents. Anyone who knows anything about how the internet works and how advertising works knows that’s insane. YouTube was paying out a decent chunk of its advertising revenue to other collection societies at a fraction of a penny per view, which is inline with the potential ad revenue.

This created a huge mess in Germany, where tons of YouTube views were blocked — even when the creators have properly licensed the music. GEMA just threw up a big “no.” This is why, when I was in Berlin a few years ago, talking with musicians, one of them showed me how his band had an “official” website that GEMA knew about and an unofficial secret “real” website, where his band could actually distribute its own music, without GEMA interfering. Think about that for a second. GEMA was regularly blocking musicians from doing what they wanted with music so it could try to shake down YouTube/Google for ransom.

And it went on until now. Six or seven years ago, Germany was the only major country where the local collection society could not come to an agreement with YouTube and it took until now to finally sort this out. There’s no word on the final amount, though I imagine it will come out at some point. GEMA is crowing about the fact that this will cover payments back to 2009, though, since so many videos on YouTube in Germany were blocked from that point onward, think of all the views and all the money that GEMA deliberately blocked users from ever receiving. Either way, the common practice of seeing that a video is “not available” in Germany is now mostly over. There are apparently some videos, for music not represented by GEMA that will remain blocked, but this is a big step forward.

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Companies: gema, google, youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Finally Buries The Hatchet With GEMA, Meaning People In Germany Can Watch Videos Again”

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17 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

“In 2009, it asked for 17 cents per video view (which was a decrease from the 37.5 cents per stream it had asked for earlier)”

“one of them showed me how his band had an “official” website that GEMA knew about and an unofficial secret “real” website, where his band could actually distribute its own music, without GEMA interfering”

“GEMA is crowing about the fact that this will cover payments back to 2009, though, since so many videos on YouTube in Germany were blocked from that point onward, think of all the views and all the money that GEMA deliberately blocked users from ever receiving”

I’m just repeating these because they really tell the whole sad story of the industry.

An agent for the legacy industry can’t comprehend how massively the marketplace has changed and make ridiculous demands that can’t ever possibly be met. The natural reaction to this stops them from ever collecting money that would have been coming their way, because they forced people to go elsewhere. Independent musicians – the very people they always claim to be benefiting – have to run a virtual black market for their own music lest they be stopped from offering it to their own fans, by someone claiming to be working for their benefit.

GEMA will never know how much money they’ve lost for themselves, the record labels and musicians alike, how many experiences have been robbed from fans, how many new opportunities not created. But, they’ll still pretend this is a victory and that it’s all Google’s fault. Meanwhile, I wonder how many German music fans will be using YouTube now that it’s been restored, or if they’ve simply gotten used to alternative methods?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“An agent for the legacy industry can’t comprehend how massively the marketplace has changed”

On the contrary. They understand and are sucking up every last dime they can before they die. Much like the Clinton foundation. The Clinton’s, while decrying the rich, have become massively wealthy through their foundation. While they have benefited from it, the largest beneficiary will be Chelsea as they have created generational wealth. Wealth, which as we all know based on the left’s way of thinking, is eviiiiillllllll.

This is why the left will never truly tax the rich, because they are rich. So when you hear the left talk about taxes, they are really talking about the middle class. After all, there isn’t enough rich people to tax to truly make a dent in the national debt but there are millions of middle class. Well, there is until the left turn them into the working poor.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“On the contrary. They understand and are sucking up every last dime they can before they die”

Then, they’re doing a terrible job. They demanded something that’s clearly not possible, and forced YouTube to guarantee that their revenue will be $0 for many of the potential views they could have had. Like many of their tactics, it’s backfired because they demanded the impossible.

“Much like the Clinton foundation”

Oh dear, you’re one of those. It’ll be nice when your country’s clown parade is finished so we can discuss things that have nothing to do with US politics in a sane manner.

” Wealth, which as we all know based on the left’s way of thinking, is eviiiiillllllll.”

Especially when you have to lie about the views of other people in a manner that’s not even internally consistent within your own comment.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "What do you mean they said 'No'? They HAVE to do what I say!"

Then, they’re doing a terrible job. They demanded something that’s clearly not possible, and forced YouTube to guarantee that their revenue will be $0 for many of the potential views they could have had. Like many of their tactics, it’s backfired because they demanded the impossible.

Caused I imagine by being able to issue any demands and decrees they want within germany and have them be obeyed, given their position in the country as pretty much(if not actually) the only ‘collection’ agency in the country, with pretty much the full backing of the legal system to get whatever they want.

They played chicken with YT expecting YT to blink and cave, impossible or not, because they figured that YT had to cave and deal with them, because musicians in germany have to go through GEMA and if YT wanted to offer music to/from german musicians they’d have to follow GEMA’s insane demands.

Unfortunately for GEMA and the poor sods forced to ‘work with’ them YT had the power and money to simply say ‘No deal’ and refuse GEMA’s ‘generous’ terms.

Hopefully the ‘deal’ offered is a sane one and GEMA is just trying to save face by making itself out to be the victor.

I.T. Guy says:

Think about that for a second. GEMA was regularly blocking musicians from doing what they wanted with music so it could try to shake down YouTube/Google for ransom.

Think about that for a second. GEMA was regularly blocking musicians from doing what they wanted with their music so it could try to shake down YouTube/Google for ransom on behalf of musicians.

It’s like the abusive husband that says he’s doing it for her own good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "not represented by GEMA"

One suspects they used platform not in Germany. As they are in the EU they might well have released products in the UK, for instance. With a little footwork shuffling GEMA would be in the dark regarding it. As evidence by the ‘secret site’ that actually works.

Considering how much effort GEMA was putting into fighting YT they might well have missed many such efforts by the artists.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Define “won”.

We don’t know the terms of the agreements, so it could be that YouTube got them to accept similar terms to what they’d originally been offering to begin with. If so, GEMA have lost years worth of payments (all the streams that should have happened but couldn’t due to the block), and all the ancillary benefits that come with having music available. They’ve also lost the trust of a generation of up and coming German artists, who are likely to have been jumping through the same hoops as the band mentioned in the article and so won’t trust them, whereas without this fiasco they’d have blindly followed.

The only way GEMA have won here is if you either believe that YouTube should be paying nothing, or if it turns out that the settlement that’s been reached is extortionate. I don’t think YouTube would have ended this long fight without terms that suited their business model.

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