German rights body sues YouTube
12th Oct 2010
Gig news staff
Gema, the German performance rights association, has launched a joint legal action against video-hosting site YouTube. The organization has partnered with seven other music industry bodies, including the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and its French equivalent, Sacem.
The alliance of rights organisations is seeking an injunction against YouTube for allegedly distributing copyrighted material without permission. Although a court in Hamburg ruled against Gema's request for an interim injunction in August, it indicated in its ruling that GEMA had made valid points. ‘It seems likely that the defendant did not administer reasonable auditory duties and/or undertake reasonable measures to prevent new copyright violations,’ according to a statement from Gema.
‘We – that is, Gema and its partners – feel that [this] is the correct course of action, and in view of the Regional Court of Hamburg's opinion we are optimistic that our demands against YouTube are justified,’ said Harald Heker, chairman of Gema’s executive board. Gema's legal challenge aims to prevent YouTube from making 75 compositions available online. The rights association had been conducting negotiations with YouTube for a new licensing contract for music use in Germany since April 2009, but the negotiations broke down in May 2010.
Gema claims that the alliance represents the copyrights of ‘approximately 60 percent of the global repertory of music’. The German association alone represents ‘more than 60,000 members’ (composers, lyricists, and music publishers) around the world.
YouTube and its parent company, Google, have frequently been sued for failing to ensure that uploaded videos comply with copyright law. In June, a lawsuit brought by broadcasting company Viacom was rejected in a US court, with the judge stating that Google was protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Viacom intends to appeal the ruling.