GEMA could have crippled YouTube due to copyright

YouTube has had its name tarnished in the past for its lax approach to copyright. Indeed, it was as a direct result of the site's indifference towards respecting copyright rulings that it became part of Google's online empire several years ago. Since then Google has struggled to make YouTube profitable - and things could only get worse thanks to a German court decision made today.

The German court came to the conclusion that Google's service is responsible for content uploaded to it by users. Yes, really. Google Glass seems impressive enough but it seems the giant will have to produce Google Brainwash if they're going to stop people from posting content. This was first covered on ZDNet's London Calling blog, from Zack Whittaker.

If you go on YouTube right now you can find virtually any song you want. In fact, you're more than likely going to find some previously unreleased B-Sides, mixtapes, EPs and the like, if you look hard enough. The flaw is obvious here, isn't it?

Due to people uploading videos to YouTube, the door is now open for anyone with a claim to file a copyright in Germany. They'll win, too, it would seem.

The site could be forced to lose any possibility of making profit for some time more, since they could have to pay royalties. If that happens the floodgates are opened. Not only that but fundamentally, it seems that people simply don't understand how the internet works sometimes.

If YouTube goes down it will be a blow to the internet, for the site is consistently one of the most popular on the entire web. If you ask an average user what they're doing on the net, it'll be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and (occasionally) email, as a general rule.

Continuing with the theme of doom and gloom for YouTube, the site was ordered to install word-based filters alongside its existing filter system, so that copyrighted work would be further protected.

Adding such functionality would greatly slow the upload process, for it would mean another algorithm has to crawl through your video in order to determine whether it's allowed or not. This would prove problematic for the citizen journalists who have taken to YouTube. Citizen journalism has grown more popular on sites such as YouTube in the wake of the Arab Spring and other major events across the world. The Iranian protests a few years ago were driven by video content and information seeping out of the country during its lockdown.

You might be thinking this is targeting a vast number of videos. If only this was the case. GEMA, a German music royalty collecting group, took the site to court over twelve YouTube videos which didn't receive royalties. Twelve videos are enough to hit the entire site, and could potentially remove millions of music videos. The upside is that VEVO videos will be protected, since they are knowingly uploaded to the site. This doesn't soften the blow though, since GEMA represents over 60,000 musicians and authors. Existing copyright filters on YouTube can vary by country, with some countries being region locked. Having discussed it with friends I've discovered that Germany tends to block a great deal of videos, including those from German artists in some cases. Google argues that the existing filters are state-of-the-art to detect and remove content.

Before we continue, perhaps an outlining of who GEMA are is in order. They are the "Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte", or the "Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights". In 2008 alone the group managed to collect 850 million euros from copyright fees. As for video content being blocked in Germany? That happened in 2009, due to GEMA trying to squeeze YouTube for 12 cents from every streamed video they represent. Rather than asking if it was a joke, YouTube described the possibility as "prohibitive", and blocked videos. At the time of writing, navigating to their page brings up an error message. Whether this is related or not cannot be established at the moment.

If things go into 'worst possible scenario' mode, then Google could have to spend a small fortune to please the copyright holders. It would be a real disappointment if Google did not appeal the decision, and it seems almost guaranteed they will, despite not having a comment at the time. It would not be surprising if the collective company was facepalming the news, for estimates suggest up to sixty hours of video being uploaded every minute.

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23 Comments

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I wonder if GEMA have any sort of representation for Justin Bieber. Wasn't he "discovered" on YouTube? They need to face facts, that without YouTube maybe a large number of the very artists they represent wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as they are.

Zoom7000 said,
I wonder if GEMA have any sort of representation for Justin Bieber. Wasn't he "discovered" on YouTube? They need to face facts, that without YouTube maybe a large number of the very artists they represent wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as they are.

They don't are sh** where the talent comes from.
As long as the money keeps rolling in...

God, I can't stan the GEMA. FFS lol

GS:mac

I for one am thankful to YouTube:

> Helps me find rare videos which seemingly have no copyright holder anymore.
> Helps me find out what music track is on an advert recently shown.

I thought the actual recording artists didn't care about profits as they barely see any anyway. They just want their music heard? Hence the name of that album "STEAL THIS ALBUM" ?

If Germany has a problem with it, why don't they just block access to YouTube. Not a great solution but it does solve the problem for their country. Yes I could upload something "illegal" but then Germany wouldn't know so it doesn't matter.

Drossel said,
Block the whole YT in Germany for a month. We'll see for how long will GEMA exist after that. People would go crazy.

like some filehosters this would be the only economical way to do this... Since most videos have a link on where you can buy the video or audio.

Drossel said,
Block the whole YT in Germany for a month. We'll see for how long will GEMA exist after that. People would go crazy.

Dude, the GEMA is already hated as **** down here.

I can post up a little "what the GEMA does" if you want.

GS:mac

When a company gets to the size of Google/Youtube everyone wants to sue.. People just cant handle it and have to hate them for it.. This actually reminds me of the ludicrous lawsuits people tried on MacDonalds..

I think you're right, block countries that do this - it's probably more economical anyway.

Simple solution, remove any video that has anything to do with any of those 60k artists GEMA represents, then watch them come crying back to Google when their revenues drop through the floor. Then Google can laugh at them and say "NO we're not putting them back"

Just block Germany again. However if the US pulls this stunt too (and I see it happening soon) then YouTube may have to shutdown temporarily to get loads of people to protest such ancient practices.

simplezz said,
Just block the whole of germany - simplezz.

Yup that way to do it and problem solve but then againe the way things are going it end up be all the internet.

I wish these companies would grow some balls and just have some sort of internet strike. Not some 24 hour, temporary splash screen on their sites. I'm talking getting a bunch of sites together (Youtube, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook) and blocking everyone in the country until the government gets tired of living in the Internet dark ages (I'm willing to bet that losing Google would drastically hurt an economy).

Uhyve said,
I wish these companies would grow some balls and just have some sort of internet strike. Not some 24 hour, temporary splash screen on their sites. I'm talking getting a bunch of sites together (Youtube, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook) and blocking everyone in the country until the government gets tired of living in the Internet dark ages (I'm willing to bet that losing Google would drastically hurt an economy).

As long as you get enough people to donate to the companies to make up for lost revenue.

Lol.

Finally someone will put an end to Google. They link to illegal material with their browser. They allow to watch illegaly uploaded video and songs on Youtube. But instead all file sharing sites are accused for helping piracy, Google of course is saint.

mantragora said,
Finally someone will put an end to Google. They link to illegal material with their browser. They allow to watch illegaly uploaded video and songs on Youtube. But instead all file sharing sites are accused for helping piracy, Google of course is saint.

Any browser will link illegal material if you search for it. Search "illegal things to download" in ANY search engine and you will get something "illicit" You don't even know what the hell you are talking about really do you?

If there is a copyright breach on youtube you can request a takedown, and if it does indeed breach the video or offending material will be removed. They don't allow you to do it. It's not like they say, hey put illegal **** here and watch it. No. they dont. Megaupload (an innocent filesharing site as you call it) WAS used legitimately but sadly condoned many illegal acts. 99% of youtube is most likely legit, yes you can watch/listen to any song but these days most songs are put up by the owners like vevo.

Sir, you are a douche nugget

mantragora said,
Finally someone will put an end to Google. They link to illegal material with their browser. They allow to watch illegaly uploaded video and songs on Youtube. But instead all file sharing sites are accused for helping piracy, Google of course is saint.

Finally someone that so clueless it an't funny it had to do with ANY illegal acts not just Google.

mantragora said,
Finally someone will put an end to Google. They link to illegal material with their browser. They allow to watch illegaly uploaded video and songs on Youtube. But instead all file sharing sites are accused for helping piracy, Google of course is saint.

If only someone could put an end to trolling.

That's right keep on the fight for "copyright" protection, when 99% of the time having this stuff on YouTube is how people actually watch or hear about it. Time to change with the times, unfortunately that wont happen. I fully support artists and companies getting their money for the work they put in but they need to find a way to keep current.

Edrick Smith said,
That's right keep on the fight for "copyright" protection, when 99% of the time having this stuff on YouTube is how people actually watch or hear about it. Time to change with the times, unfortunately that wont happen. I fully support artists and companies getting their money for the work they put in but they need to find a way to keep current.

You said it! We are coming down to a closed down Internet, in which Google and other search engines will be useless because there won't be anything else to look, except for FBI messages of taken websites.