German DJ’s in dispute with GEMA

May 2013

Music publishing, live events sector


A dispute between the German DJ fraternity and Germany’s music publishing rights collecting society GEMA resulted in two protests outside the rights organisation’s offices in Dortmund and Munichin Aprilk, the latter also supported by the German Pirate Party. The DJs are protesting a recently announced new licence that GEMA has introduced which means that DJs who play their sets off laptops or similar devices must pay a royalty into the collecting organisation, seemingly to cover the ‘mechanical copy’ said DJs are making of any songs they rip from CD or transfer from another device to the computer they perform with. While in Germany such copies are exempt from royalty payments if for personal use, the minute said copied songs are played in public that exemption does not apply, says the rights body. The cost will be 13 cents for each copied track, although bulk track options are also available. Billboard calculated that an average DJ with, say, 15,000 tracks on his or her laptop would face an annual licence fee of 1500 euros. The DJs have also pointed out that GEMA already receives royalties from club promoters for the performing rights that exist in the songs DJs play, and that any mechanical rights should be bundled into those licences saying that the new levy is “double taxation”.

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