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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  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 4:37pm

    And now we can wait and watch when the GEMA associated artists launch their lawsuits to recover royalties that were never paid to them from this agreement

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 6:39pm

    Wrong headline

    Shouldn't the headline be "GEMA Finally Buries the Hatchet with YouTube"? GEMA is the aggressor and apparently the one that settled.

    Brings to mind the time when GEMA complained to court that YouTube saying 'GEMA blocked this video' was unfair. Ahh... good times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 1:51am

    "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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:04am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:22am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:47am

          "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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re:

        Sweet, Clinton Foundation is on my right wing conspiracy bingo card!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:28am

      'GEMA will never know how much money they've lost for themselves, the record labels and musicians alike'

      Just wait, I am sure they will come up with a number that they will try to shakedown someone to pay.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:07am

    That just meant they can watch it without having to use a VPN. You can bet that a lot of Germans were using VPNs or proxies to circumvent the block.

    I do think that when TPP gets re-negotiated, there will be an item about this in the re-neogiated agreement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:24am

      Re:

      "You can bet that a lot of Germans were using VPNs or proxies to circumvent the block."

      They would also have been pirating, using other video and streaming services, using other entertainment media or just turning to other videos on YouTube.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:00am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 9:08am

    ad revenue YT

    Is there an estimate of how much Youtube makes per 1000 views? In 2011 the GEMA charged €4.80 for 1000 views on a site like YT which sounds like a lot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 9:31am

    "not represented by GEMA"

    There are apparently some videos, for music not represented by GEMA that will remain blocked

    GEMA was described as "mandatory" earlier, so how are some not represented by them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 3:04pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 10:25am

    But the copyright monopoly - this time GEMA - won. What is there to celebrate?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Nov 2016 @ 1:08am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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