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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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Filed Under: collection society, copyright, germany, videos, youtube
Companies: gema, google, youtube


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  1. 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.


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