During the past few days, the subject of GEMA vs. YouTube has been brought to the attention of the general public once again. Apparently, pressure is supposed to build up before GEMA's annual membership meeting starts today so that GEMA will withdraw the legal action it initiated against YouTube in 2010. Especially as one must reckon with a date for this summer being set for oral negotiations.
Under a spotlight, what's left of the at times emotional media response is not much more than hot air. Alexander Wolf, the legal advisor for international legal issues at GEMA, has this to say, "There cannot be any talk about a sudden escalation between YouTube and GEMA. There has been no change in the situation for months, as the suit was filed already at the end of 2010. The text that has been appearing recently when you pull up some of the blocked music videos is misleading: the text implies to the user GEMA has not granted publishing rights to YouTube. However, the fact is that YouTube has simply not acquired these rights up until this point in time. GEMA is obligated by law to offer a license to every music user. YouTube's blocking the videos, therefore, should be seen as pure propaganda." And this says almost all there is to say. A new scenario has not been created these past few days, and the measures instigated by YouTube are not legitimate. The aforementioned notice appearing with the blocked videos is a part of these measures. YouTube's notice tells its users: "Unfortunately this video is not available in Germany as it could contain music that GEMA has not granted the required music rights to." This statement is false in so far as due to its mandated obligation to enter into a contract, GEMA is legally obligated to offer every licensee – in other words, every music user – the appropriate licensing contract. A consequent implementation on the part of YouTube would also mean the content provider would have to block the entire GEMA repertoire on its Web site. As this is not the case, apparently YouTube's voluntarily induced blocking of the videos is based on pure arbitrariness. In the meantime, some recording labels as well as the activists from Anonymous, who previously gained notoriety for hacker attacks, have jumped on the propaganda bandwagon and sounded off. On the weekend, the hackers threatened to paralyze GEMA's Web site because of the disagreements with YouTube. GEMA's Web servers were overloaded due to the attack for a while and services were disrupted at times, but the servers withstood the DDoS attack. GEMA represents the intellectual property rights of more than 64,000 members (composers, lyricists, and music publishers) in Germany as well as over two million copyright holders all over the world. It is one the largest authors' societies for music works worldwide. Press Contact:
Bettina Müller, Head of Communication & PR
email: bmueller@gema.de, phone +49 89 48003-426