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10 January 2013

YouTube negotiations: GEMA files applications with the Arbitration Board

GEMA and YouTube have broken off negotiations for the time being. GEMA has initiated proceedings at the Arbitration Board of the German Patent and Trademark Office. As a neutral body, the Board will review whether the minimum compensation rate called for by GEMA is reasonable. In parallel, YouTube has been requested to stop the arbitrary display of blocked content messages.
Since the end of March 2009, there has been no agreement between GEMA and YouTube to regulate the use of copyright-protected works of music on YouTube’s streaming-based Internet video platform. Despite efforts by both sides, the parties have still not reached agreement as of January 2013 either on the question of the service provider’s responsibility under copyright law for the content on its platform, or on the rate of compensation. GEMA is now taking initial measures to secure reasonable compensation for copyright owners.

Application to the Arbitration Board: Review whether compensation rate is reasonable and claim for damages

Through the applications for damages, the Arbitration Board will review whether the royalty rates called for by GEMA are reasonable. This affects the unlicensed use of 1,000 copyright-protected works of music in the GEMA repertoire. The Board will review whether the minimum per stream rate of 0.375 cents (=0.00375 EUR) called for by GEMA is reasonable. GEMA’s decision to take its case to the Arbitration Board of the German Patent and Trademark Office as a neutral body is the procedure provided by law for these cases.  Dr. Harald Heker, CEO of GEMA, said: “Our position is clear. Copyright owners must receive appropriate compensation for the use of their copyright-protected repertoire. Since April 1, 2009, YouTube has turned down all proposals for appropriate licensing. All this time YouTube has used our members’ rights administered by GEMA without paying them anything. We believe that this is a breach of copyright law. We therefore believe that a claim for damages is justified as the copyright-protected works of music are being used and marketed on YouTube on a massive scale.”

Warning: GEMA requests YouTube to stop displaying misleading blocked content messages

In a further step, GEMA has issued a warning to YouTube regarding the content of the blocked content messages that are being arbitrarily displayed on YouTube: “These blocked content messages are still being used on a wide scale to negatively influence public and media opinion in an extremely misleading way”. The displayed text gives the false impression that GEMA is categorically refusing to license the use of works of music. GEMA has, on the contrary, always been willing to grant YouTube a license and YouTube has always had the option of acquiring a license itself in accordance with the legal regulations. For reasons that are unclear to us, YouTube has in the past not been prepared to go down this route. We have so far purposely avoided taking legal steps so as not to encumber the ongoing negotiations with further legal proceedings”, says Dr. Harald Heker, explaining the actions of GEMA. If YouTube does not follow this request, then GEMA will use the legal means available and file an application for an injunction with the competent court. For more extensive background information and video statements (TV compatible format), please visit GEMA represents in Germany the copyrights of more than 65,000 members (composers, text authors, and music publishers), as well as over two million copyright owners from all over the world. It is one of the largest societies for authors of works of music in the world. Press contact:  
Ursula Goebel, Head of Marketing & Communication
E-mail:, tel.: +49 89 48003-426
Katharina Reindlmeier, PR Manager  
E-mail:, tel.: +49 89 48003-583