YouTube and German Artists Settle Copyright Dispute

YouTube- the video sharing platform and GEMA- the German music rights organisation have settled a long-running licensing copyright dispute that has lasted seven years. This marks a huge victory for artists as tens of thousands of music videos that were previously blocked in Germany are now available to view on Youtube.

German viewers were unable to access and view many popular YouTube videos after the previous licensing agreement expired in 2009 and subsequently companies failed to agree the amount that artists should be paid for their work being streamed. As a result of the failed negotiations, GEMA restricted access to the work of around 70,000 artists.

Details of the licensing agreement have not been released and it ends years of legal actions and lengthy negotiations between the parties. Under this agreement about 70,000 composers and publishers who are GEMA members will earn royalties for the use of their copyrighted content on YouTube. The deal will cover past as well as future usage.

The long-running dispute centred on who was responsible for breaches of copyright. Gema argued that YouTube generates huge profits from streaming the videos and that it should pay all artists for the use of their copyright-protected material and further that it was up to YouTube to monitor videos for potential copyright infringement. YouTube argued that it does not own the videos and that it merely provides the technical framework in order to publish the content and therefore it should not be held accountable for their use.

Gema Ceo, Harald Hecker commented: “After seven years of tough negotiations, the conclusion of this contract with YouTube marks a milestone for Gema and its members. We remained true to our position that authors should also get a fair remuneration in the digital age, despite the resistance we met. It is crucial that the licensing agreement that we have now signed covers both the future and the past. By reaching this agreement, we can secure the royalties for our members”.

Despite the deal important unresolved issues remain between Gema and YouTube in relation to who is liable for licensing violations. YouTube argues that only those uploading the music are responsible, whilst Gema argues YouTube is liable. In relation to this Hakar commented “Despite the conclusion of this agreement, the challenge remains for the politicians to create a clear legal framework. The economic value of cultural and creative works must also be passed on to the creators of the works. A modern copyright needs to be created which enables music creators to claim their financial share in the digital value chain”.





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