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German music rights law blocks many Youtube videos

We’ve talked about the trouble with German music law in the past. It’s the reason that Spotify took so long to launch in the country and why other music services have such a hard time. The biggest performance rights group in the country, GEMA, is tyrannical in its protectionism of artists and without a fair usage law like you find in countries like the US, it’s leading to many high profile Youtube videos be blocked by Google as a precautionary measure.

For example, Meteor videos filmed last week from Russian dashboards were blocked in most instances, as they had car radios playing in the background. According to Wired, around 1,000 of the most popular Youtube videos are blocked in the country because it is assumed that they contain GEMA owned music.

While you might think this is an over reaction, Google has publically said why it takes such protective measures: “YouTube has no insight into what rights GEMA represents. Due to the legal and financial risks that result from these processes in the context of GEMA’s [published royalty fee structure], music videos are blocked in Germany.”

Youtube GEMA
This is what German Youtube users are greeted by when trying to watch certain videos

Currently the rights group is demanding a per-stream cost of 0.004 euros. For a video with hundreds of millions of plays, this could represent millions of dollars that Google would have to pay out if it happened to contain part of a GEMA protected track.

Rights groups are suggesting that GEMA’s attitude is preventing freedom of expression and freedom of the press within Germany, since so many videos end up blocked within the country.

GEMA has said it is prepared to work with Google but only on its terms.

KitGuru Says: This just seems silly. GEMA and German artists are missing out on revenue because of this over the top system and the German people are unable to view content that is available everywhere else in the world.

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