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YouTube's Seven Year Itch in Germany

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After SEVEN years of effectively seeing a blocked message on videos in Germany due to concerns over artist, publishers or composers not being paid GEMA and Google have may have come to terms. This would occur on videos primarily considered music videos or with music in the background. Let's say you wanted to watch this wonderful link: Rick Roll 1

Example for Gema Blocks

Instead of knowing the rules to the game as Mr Rick Astley would have soulfully sang to you, you would have seen the above picture.

That is how it has been for users of YouTube in Germany since 2009. GEMA says it based off of fair pay to artist, but I would ask what about the seven years of lost revenue YouTube would have generated for said artist? Other services like Spotify and Apple from what I've read seem to not pay near as well.

And it all comes down to this, a person. And council in the year of 2012 in Hamburg Germany found YouTube could be held liable for damages when it hosts copyrighted videos without the copyright holder's permission. Then in March 2009 after the previous agreement had expired negotiations for a new license agreement were stopped. This is when the banned video page started showing for users.

Fast forward a few years to June 2015, Google won a partial victory against GEMA in a state court in Munich, which ruled that they could not be held liable for such damages. Now 2017 with YouTube's Red service new tracking abilities have been introduced allowing for credit to be assigned to background music and to artist.

In part the changes have to do with YouTube's new copyright protection clarification and tags that potentially allow credit to go to the artist, publishers or composers that were not really protected in the past which was why GEMA banned the above mentioned music and music video content.

Do I personally think Google did this to get back into good grace with GEMA? No, but Google is smart, and they rarely act without cause or reason.

I think it is a pleasant side effect of them upgrading YouTube to allow paid content and in turn it benefits YouTube's creators that haven't been able to build in Germany as well as artist globally in the same situation. In turn allowing people to watch what they want.

Christophe Muller who is YouTube's head of international music partnerships said, "This is a win for music artists around the world, enabling them to reach new and existing fans in Germany... and for YouTube users in Germany, who will no longer see a blocking message on music content,"


GEMA's Harald Heker, chief executive, "We remained true to our position that authors should also get a fair remuneration in the digital age, despite the resistance we met,"

Clearly YouTube just wants to show all their user created videos and clearly GEMA just wants artist to get paid. Now that there is a way to track who is entitled to remunerations it will be interesting to see how GEMA and Google come to terms in the long run of things.

Of course there is still debate with GEMA vs YouTube read Google on who is responsible for licensing the background music, etc in videos and content made.

Here is hope that since Google has made a step in moving forward to make sure people can get paid, what sort of demands will follow or will GEMA make a positive decision.

Perhaps finally artist globally can reach an existing fan base or new fans all-together on YouTube in Germany. Let's hope GEMA will decide to let the users creating content on YouTube point the credit deserved to the artist, publishing houses, or composers as well so everyone benefits from 100 views or 1,000,000 instead of everyone missing out for another seven years.

Shane Robertson

Gss :)

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