Sony Music Exec: The Internet Is Full Of Opportunities & Not A Problem; Intransigent Collection Societies, However...

from the more-people-getting-it dept

We've detailed a few times the ridiculous standoff in Germany, where the incredibly aggressive music collection society GEMA is involved in a big lawsuit against YouTube for posting videos with music in them. YouTube has done licensing deals with collection societies around the globe, but GEMA refuses to even sit down to start a conversation until after the lawsuit happens. Because of that, all GEMA music in Germany is barred from YouTube entirely. This leads to some situations in which totally licensed videos are banned in Germany. This has been going on for years and years with no change.

GEMA, of course, says that it's doing this to "protect" the artists. But as I've pointed out in the past, many, many artists in Germany don't believe that at all. In the past we've noted that GEMA tried to ignore Creative Commons licenses as well as barred members from offering their music for free (two years ago, when I was in Germany at a music conference, I had multiple artists explain to me they had an "official" website where they would "sell" music to keep GEMA happy... and an "unofficial" website where they'd offer their music for free. The whole thing is crazy.

In fact, it's gotten so crazy that apparently even the major labels are getting sick of it. TorrentFreak has the news of a top Sony Music exec, Edgar Berger, who runs their international business, talking about how the internet hasn't been a problem at all, but has created tons of new opportunities. The ones creating the real problems for the industry? GEMA. Because the music is blocked "to protect the artist," it appears that the labels and artists are missing out on large revenue checks from YouTube's ContentID...
“There is absolutely nothing to complain about. The Internet is a great stroke of luck for the music industry, or better: the Internet is a blessing for us,” Berger said.

“You can not blame the Internet for harmful excesses. On the contrary. It has brought us tremendous new opportunities,” he added.

But with these new opportunities come new rivals from an unexpected corner. According to the Sony boss, music rights collecting agencies are now preventing innovation in certain countries.

In Germany, for example, most YouTube videos by Sony artists are blocked due to the music rights group GEMA, and not because Sony wants it that way. When asked why Sony’s music is not available on YouTube in Germany, Berger responded bitterly.

“It’s not because of us. You must direct this question to the German collecting agency GEMA, they licensed the copyright very restrictively.”
Quite a contrast from the "old" story, right? Here's a situation in which technology and business model innovation via Content ID are creating massive new revenue opportunities for the entertainment industry -- and the old school system of excess protectionism is denying them that revenue.


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