YouTube loses GEMA court battle


A German court has forced YouTube to remove seven copyrighted music clips and said it is responsible for content posted by users.

German royalty collecting body GEMA, which represents about 60,000 musicians, argued that YouTube infringed some of its members’ copyright. YouTube said it merely provided the technical framework to publish content, and was not responsible for monitoring music clips and videos.

The Hamburg District Court ruled otherwise and has asked YouTube to install filters to detect when users are posting content whose rights are held by GEMA.

Its decision could force YouTube to pay large royalty bills for the seven clips owned by GEMA’s members. GEMA said it does not want further court action but for YouTube to sign a contract covering royalties. YouTube told the BBC it was committed to finding a solution to the “music licensing issue” in Germany.

This is not the first victory for GEMA against websites accused of using music without paying royalties. In 2009, a court ruled that file-sharing website Rapidshare had to begin filtering songs. And Grooveshark, a music-streaming website, stopped doing business in Germany because it said GEMA imposed licensing rates that made it impossible to make a profit there.

The ruling follows another setback for YouTube, whose court battle against media company Viacom reignited in April 2012. The Manhattan-based Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said a “reasonable jury” could find that YouTube executives did know that users were posting material that infringed Viacom’s copyright.

This article was first published on 01 May 2012 in World IP Review

YouTube, GEMA

Trademarks and Brands Online