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GEMA versus YouTube – new legal proceedings and warning over "sorry" notice Written by Michelle Kuepper on 29. January 2013



A sad face and notice blaming GEMA is a sight all too familiar to users trying to play their favourite music videos in Germany. Now, the well-known battle between YouTube and German copyright society GEMA is taking a new legal twist.

GEMA has filed new proceedings against YouTube to the Arbitration Board of the the German Patent and Trademark Office. Disagreements over financial terms have taken place since the last contract between GEMA and YouTube ended in 2009. GEMA has accused YouTube of the unlicensed use of 1,000 works of music, asking for €1.6m in compensation. GEMA has set its demands at 0.375 cents per music video click.

In this latest development, GEMA has asked the German Patent and Trademark Office to consider whether that rate is reasonable as part of “initial measures to secure reasonable compensation for copyright owners”.

The above notice on YouTube, with its mention of GEMA, is also ruffling feathers in the copyright office. GEMA head Harald Heker said that the phrasing of the message is designed to stir public opinion and demanded YouTube reword the statement.

YouTube versus GEMA – how many videos are blocked?

Open Data City, a new website targeting the YouTube versus GEMA debate, which is supported by MyVideo, reported that roughly 62 per cent of the top 1,000 videos on YouTube are blocked in Germany. The less-than-ideal position of YouTube in Germany means a host of rival sites, including MyVideo, Berlin-based, Vimeo and Dailymotion, are jostling to fill gaps in the market. Frustrated YouTube users have also been using proxy sites to avoid location detection.

At least we’ve still got gaming vids and fail compilations…

Given the challenges, YouTube is still doing remarkably well in the German market, at least according to figures from international market researcher ComScore last May. The main attraction for Germans? Gaming video channels.

For related posts, check out:

“Building the $100 billion Music Business” – MIDEM’s Bruno Crolot on the future of online music – the 21-year-old German waging a million signatures against Google
Gaming keeps YouTube strong in Germany