GEMA's legal dispute with YouTube ends in victory for the music royalty collection agency, with a German court ruling Google must do more to prevent piracy, including implementing word filters on all uploads
Germany's music rights group has won an important legal victory as part of its bitter ongoing battle with YouTube over licensing fees, as the German regional courts in Hamburg found YouTube liable for the actions of its users.
The court found that YouTube, owned by Google, did not do enough to prevent the upload of infringing content, including several music videos that GEMA had identified, and has instructed YouTube to do more than simply removing content on request or automatically detecting possible infringing content using YouTube's Content ID system. Stronger actions could include implementing a word filter to automatically block videos whose titles contain words that may indicate possible infringement.
The legal battle was initiated by GEMA after the licensing and royalty collection agency failed to agree to a licensing deal with Google. GEMA is now expected to use this legal victory to improve their bargaining position, and force Google to accept their demand for 10% of all streamed music revenue, plus an additional six euro cents per stream payment.
A typical music video with 8 million views on YouTube might then cost Google 800,000 euros, plus 10% of any ad revenue, something that might force Google to withdraw from the German market entirely. Google has already blocked all officially uploaded music videos from being shown in German due to this legal dispute, forcing some users to turn to Chinese proxy servers in order to view legal uploads.
GEMA's reputation for being ruthless when it comes to music licensing isn't new either, with GEMA previously accused of harassing kindergartens for making copies of songs for sing-a-long purposes.
It is unknown at this time whether Google will appeal this decision.