German Court Tells YouTube To Change 'Content Blocked' Notice After GEMA Complains About Its Hurt Feelings
from the oh,-so-you're-a-'crying-on-the-inside'-sort-of-thug dept
German YouTube users get to see a whole lot of the following rather than actual videos, thanks to the world's most aggressive PRO (performance rights organization).
GEMA, which has been engaged in litigation against YouTube for several years now in hopes of "negotiating" higher fees, has just secured a ridiculous decision in its favor from a German court that specifically targets the wording used in the "sorry 'bout that, Germans" message.
Time and again, users are informed that videos are blocked due to GEMA not granting the necessary music rights. As a result, GEMA has become very unpopular indeed.Poor sweet, sensitive GEMA. It can't handle German users being told that the PRO has yet to grant the rights. Instead, it wants to make it look as though it's entirely YouTube's fault. It wants to pretend it hasn't spent a majority of the last half-decade battling and suing YouTube, the end result of which has been massive amounts of videos being blocked in Germany.
Trying to remedy the situation, GEMA applied for an injunction to force YouTube to change the messages, claiming that they misrepresent the situation and damage GEMA’s reputation. YouTube alone is responsible for blocking the videos, claiming otherwise is simply false, GEMA argued.
Yesterday the District Court of Munich agreed with the music group and issued an injunction to force YouTube to comply, stating that the notices “denigrate” GEMA with a “totally distorted representation of the legal dispute between the parties.” Changing the message to state that videos are not available due to a lack of a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA would be more appropriate, the Court said.
GEMA's complaint is every bit as ridiculous as that of an artist in a story we covered back in 2012, who claimed that YouTube's "content removed" notices somehow made the artists looks like the "bad guys" by listing the party responsible for the takedown in the message. In that case, this artist was upset that YouTube was doing exactly what he asked it to do: take down infringing content and notify the infringer that the content had been removed.
The same thing applies here. GEMA hasn't granted the rights to use this content, therefore it's blocked in Germany. But that heaps too much of the blame on GEMA's tiny shoulders, a burden GEMA (and now a German court) feels should be transferred to YouTube. This despite the fact that GEMA could have an agreement with YouTube, but because it's asking for $0.17 a stream (as compared to say, PRS, which receives $0.0034 per view), there's very little chance of it ever obtaining one. In the meantime, Germans will continue to see quizzically apologetic faces and court-ordered wording instead of videos. This ultimately has nothing to do with GEMA's faux concern for its stable of artists (don't forget: GEMA is opt-out, not opt-in, like other PROs) and everything to do with its public image.
GEMA's reputation isn't something it can salvage at this point and no amount of wording is going to change the fact that it's its own worst enemy, and pretty much the worst thing that has happened to 95% of its roster (the top 5% or so will continue to rake in cash -- as with every collection agency anywhere). That a PRO with this much power has the audacity to complain to the courts about its self-inflicted wounds shows it still holds very tightly to its outsized sense of entitlement. That a German court would oblige is unfortunate, but not really all that surprising.
No matter what the final wording reads, German artists and fans won't forget who's the real problem here.