German and US actions take the shine off Google

June 2010

Internet, music publishing

Rights holders in Germany and the USA are stepping up the pressure on Google’s YouTube as rights holders seek to monetise the use of their copyrights. In Germany licensing talks between YouTube and GEMA have broken down, leading the German music rights holder group to demand that 600 videos be removed from the German version of the site. After a year of negotiations, GEMA said in a statement it was unable to reach a deal with YouTube, which had similar issues with UK collection society PRS for Music although the PRS and YouTube eventually reached new licensing terms. Billboard reports that GEMA “wanted assurances that a new deal would include a share of advertising revenue and take account of YouTube’s revenue growth” with GEMA saying in a statement: “Operators of online platforms which generate [revenue through] the use of copyrighted works – such as, in YouTube’s case, millions in advertising revenue – must ensure that those who create these works, providing the so-called ‘content’, are properly remunerated”. In the USA performing rights organisations ASCAP, BMI and SESAC have signed on to an amicus brief in support of Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Google and YouTube. The brief argues that YouTube should not be granted “safe harbour” from liability for the copyright infringement committed by its users under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because it derives “a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such an activity.”

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