GEMA fail to get injunctive relief against YouTube

October 2010

Music publishing, internet

German collecting society GEMA have failed to get an injunction to force YouTube to take down videos containing one of 75 songs – the German songwriters and publishers collection society has been in dispute with YouTube over royalty rates for over a year now. After ongoing licensing talks between the collecting society and video site broke down in May, GEMA asked the German courts to issue an injunction to force the Google-owned site to remove any videos containing one of 75 songs owned by publishers represented by the collecting society. The society argued an injunction was needed now, pending other legal action, on urgency grounds because, given there is currently no licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA, the writers of the 75 songs in question are losing money every time one of their videos is played. But, according to Billboard, the Regional Court of Hamburg, whilzt not passing judgment on GEMA’s wider copyright claim, said it was not convinced by the urgency argument so would not issue any interim injunctions. GEMA can, of course, proceed with other legal action against YouTube, but the 75 songs may continue to be accessed via the video site at present. GEMA have a month to appeal the injunction ruling should they wish to.

However, a German court has also ruled that Google’s YouTube must compensate the copyright holder of several musical video performances posted to the site, as its terms of service do not legally alleviate the site’s responsibility to respect copyrights. Google has said that it will appeal the Hamburg state court’s ruling, which found that Google’s notice to users that they must own the copyrights to videos they upload does not go far enough to shield Google from liability from infringements committed by those users – who Google lets sign up for YouTube anonymously. The case was brought by Frank Peterson, a German composer and producer for Sarah Brightman whose videos were uploaded. Arnd Haller, director of legal affairs at Google Germany said “This decision results in a substantial legal uncertainty for all providers of video platforms, opinion forums, social communities, blogs and many other Internet services in Germany”  adding that the company believes the ruling is in conflict with the EU’s e-commerce directive.

In a similar case in the US in June the court went the other way and Google won in a battle brought by Viacom over the issue of unauthorized content on Youtube, saving the company $1 billion. Viacom is appealing that decision. In a recent Spanish decision a Madrid court dismissed a copyright infringement claims brought against YouTube by Spanish television broadcaster Gestevision Telecinco SA.

CMU Daily, 3rd September 2010

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