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GEMA signs agreement with YouTube: Milestone for a fair remuneration of music authors in the digital age achieved

On 01 November 2016, GEMA and the online platform YouTube signed a licensing agreement which also covers the contractual gap since 2009. 70,000 music authors and publishers represented by GEMA are now going to receive again remuneration for the exploitation of their musical works protected by copyright.


After years of legal disputes and lengthy negotiations, GEMA and YouTube managed to agree on a licensing contract. By concluding this contract, GEMA members will now be paid for the exploitation of works protected by copyright via the online platform with the furthest global reach. GEMA is fulfilling its fiducial duty to manage the rights on behalf of its members by signing this contract.

The public will also benefit from this agreement. From now on, so-called blocked content notices will discontinue. YouTube is no longer going to use them for blocking the access to music videos containing GEMA repertoire.

Dr Harald Heker, GEMA CEO, commented the contract as follows: “After seven years of tough negotiations the conclusion of this contract with YouTube marks a milestone for GEMA and its members. We remained true to our position that authors should also get a fair remuneration in the digital age, despite the resistance we met. It is crucial that the licensing agreement that we have now signed covers both the future and the past. By reaching this agreement, we can secure the royalties for our members.”

On top of the traditional ad-based service, the agreement covers the new subscription service that YouTube is already offering in the USA and which it is planning to launch in Europe. Thomas Theune, Director of Broadcast and Online at GEMA, adds: “The conclusion of this contract with YouTube is a clear signal to all online platforms that successfully build their business models on the musical works of creatives. Authors must be fairly remunerated for the exploitation of their musical works. GEMA will continue to actively pursue this goal.”

YouTube and GEMA continue to hold different legal positions on the issue of whether YouTube or the uploaders are responsible for the licensing of the used musical works. Irrespective of these diverging views, GEMA and YouTube decided to look forward and create a secure basis for GEMA members and YouTube users.

Dr Harald Heker reinforces this point, and states: “Despite the conclusion of this agreement, the challenge remains for the politicians to create a clear legal framework. The economic value of cultural and creative works must also be passed on to the creators of the works. A modern copyright needs to be created which enables music creators to claim their financial share in the digital value chain.”

Please find footage material here: http://www.gema.de/youtube/footage. 
(Video statements of Prof Dr Enjott Schneider, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at GEMA and Thomas Theune, Director of Broadcast and Online at GEMA.)