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Youtube Music The Courts

YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices 427

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the some-organizations-deserve-scorn dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with new developments in a two-year-old spat between YouTube and GEMA (a German music royalty collection foundation). After the courts ordered YouTube to implement tools to block videos that contained music GEMA licenses, it seems that telling users why content was blocked isn't making GEMA happy. From the article: "GEMA applied for an injunction to force YouTube to change the messages, claiming that they misrepresent the situation and damage GEMA’s reputation. YouTube alone is responsible for blocking the videos, claiming otherwise is simply false, GEMA argued. ... Yesterday the District Court of Munich agreed with the music group and issued an injunction to force YouTube to comply, stating that the notices 'denigrate' GEMA with a 'totally distorted representation of the legal dispute between the parties.' Changing the message to state that videos are not available due to a lack of a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA would be more appropriate, the Court said." The messages currently reads, "Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights." Seems pretty neutral. Non-compliance with the order could result in fines of €250,000 per infraction.
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YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices

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  • "We can't show you this video because we're super lame. Also GEMA is the shit. You should give them money."
  • We have been ordered by a German court to say that "videos are not available due to a lack of a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA"
  • The court is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mnooning (759721) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:45AM (#46345401) Journal
    With the current wording GEMA looks like the bad guy. What if it read "Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because Youtube will not come to agreement with GEMA."? Then youtube would look like the bad guy. "... lack of a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA ..." would be neutral.
    • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:49AM (#46345451)

      Youtube has a right to not be neutral. It is their website, and they have the free speech rights to portray GEMA however they like, in their publications.

      • This is the EU we're talking about, a country with no specific guarantee of free speech. Britain criminalizes insulting a famous person, while Germany can criminalize insulting a major corporation.

        • EU isn't a country, and yes, free speech is protected as a human right. You can insult famous people in Britain all you like, as long as you don't allege something about them which is not true. The problem is how Britain's libel laws favor ligitive rich accusers, but Britain is hardly the only places that favors rich, ligitive bastards.

          • by stoploss (2842505)

            EU isn't a country, and yes, free speech is protected as a human right. You can insult famous people in Britain all you like, as long as you don't allege something about them which is not true. The problem is how Britain's libel laws favor ligitive rich accusers, but Britain is hardly the only places that favors rich, ligitive bastards.

            I think the problem from most people's perspective is that historically the truth was not an affirmative defense against libel in Britain. I know there are many aspects of US culture that have others roll their eyes about, but this is one case where the situation was reversed.

            Seems they had a new law go into effect in January, though. The blurb [jdsupra.com] mentions truth as a defense, so perhaps things are improving over there.

      • ...hey have the free speech rights to portray GEMA however they like, in their publications.

        Free speech rules only apply in the US. Every place else is up for grabs.

        • "Free speech rules only apply in the US."

          See European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, Title II Article 11 Paragraph 1:
          "Article 11
          Freedom of expression and information
          1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold
          opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority
          and regardless of frontiers."

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Note that it is talking about people, not corporations. In Europe corporations are not people.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        Defamation law distinguishes between ostensibly-editorial and ostensibly-factual content, even in the US. The notice is ostensibly factual, and a lot will rest on its accuracy. Ironically if Youtube had made it say "GEMA are a bunch of fat jerks" it would've been perfectly defensible.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Ironically if Youtube had made it say "GEMA are a bunch of fat jerks" it would've been perfectly defensible.

          Close.

          It should have said something like "we think GEMA are a bunch of fat jerks" to make clear it is an opinion, not a fact, and then it'd be defensible under freedom of expression rights.

          The way you state it, it is presented as a fact, in which case GEMA can sue for defamation. Which is exactly what they did in the actual case, as the Google message is presented as a fact, which GEMA thought (and the court agreed with) to be untrue.

      • by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:19AM (#46345825) Homepage

        Youtube has a right to not be neutral. It is their website, and they have the free speech rights to portray GEMA however they like, in their publications.

        No they don't. They might, though it is unlikely, be allowed to do that in your little bit of the world but they aren't in Germany; that should have been reasonably obvious from the fact the court just ruled it that way. The world doesn't, in fact, exist purely as you think it should.

      • It is their website, and they have the free speech rights to portray GEMA however they like, in their publications.

        Not if it's defamatory, they don't.

        (I'm not saying that's necessarily the case here, just that your blanket statement is obviously untrue.)

      • I wonder if false accusations are legal under "free speech" anywhere?

        OK, you have to use a bit of legalese nitpicking to the original statement, but if you watch really closely, the original statement indeed is false.

        It says that the GEMA did not GRANT the rights. Which is not correct as in exchange for their legal monopoly the GEMA has, it has the legal duty to grant the rights to anyone. The real problem is that the two partys can't agree on a price.

    • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:52AM (#46345485)
      GEMA's stance is batshit crazy. The RIAA and ASCAP go overboard, but GEMA cranks it up to 11.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        GEMA's stance is #@!&. Once you're a member you aren't even allowed to make your own material freely available. Your IP isn't your own any more, it will belong to GEMA and you will be charged with copyright infringement although you're the creator.

        GEMA is all about money for GEMA, nothing else.

    • The problem is that YouTube is not the one who has to license with GEMA. That is between the poster and GEMA and YouTube is a third party.
    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:04AM (#46345617) Homepage Journal

      With the current wording GEMA looks like the bad guy.

      So... the current wording is correct.

      I actually believe copyright law is valuable and has a place, when appropriately balanced, but it's tilted so far in favor of content owners right now, and the record labels and their associations are so abusive, that my starting position is always to assume they're in the wrong.

      (Disclaimer: I happen to be a Google engineer, but I don't speak for Google and Google doesn't speak for me. In addition, my opinions on this matter long pre-dated my employment at Google -- in fact they're derived primarily from the year I spent working for Universal Music Group. Based on what I learned there, if you assume in any dispute that the labels are being slimy and abusive, you're basically always right.)

      • I actually believe copyright law is valuable and has a place, when appropriately balanced, but it's tilted so far in favor of content owners right now, and the record labels and their associations are so abusive, that my starting position is always to assume they're in the wrong.

        I have a lot of sympathy with that point of view. On the other hand, with on-line copyright infringement, we're also talking about an activity that is ripping off the legal rightsholders left and right, yet which isn't considered a criminal activity in the way that for example theft or fraud would be.

        The barriers to cost-effective enforcement as the law was originally envisaged are often prohibitively high in the context of mass distribution over the Internet. Meanwhile, you only have to read Slashdot for f

        • by Ken D (100098)

          On the flip side, works coming into the public domain after a limited time of exclusivity, as the law was originally envisaged, isn't happening either.

          Copyright wasn't intended to grant corporations an infinite lock on culture (literature, music, art). Copyright isn't working, there's no quid pro quo, so why shouldn't the public just walk away and say "screw this"?

    • There is no burden of proof on GEMA, they can demand the takedown of any video, whether it contains something they hold rights to or not. Thus, "it may contain" is the strongest thing Google can say. It is also the undeniable truth that Youtube does not have a license, as such, it's 100% correct that GEMA hasn't granted one. It's true no matter what the demands are on either side.

      Youtube has no obligation to paint GEMA in a favorable light, as long as their statements are true. They can say GEMA are evil, u

      • by N1AK (864906)

        Youtube has no obligation to paint GEMA in a favorable light, as long as their statements are true. They can say GEMA are evil, unreasonable greedy misers, and it would be perfectly legal free speech (as it should be).

        And yet here we are, with a court ruling they can't. Imagine which version of 'legal free speech' I'm going to assume applies a) a court in the country b) a /. poster who disagrees.

    • by pla (258480)
      With the current wording GEMA looks like the bad guy

      So "truth" doesn't count as a defense against defamation in Germany?
  • Draconian GEMA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SeanDS (1039000)
    YouTube are right to pass the buck to GEMA. I've been living in Germany for 6 months after having lived in the UK all my life, and only having very rarely seen videos blocked by the UK music industry, almost all of the videos I try to watch on Facebook or similar (usually viral videos) are blocked. GEMA need to get with the times and realise they can't staunchly deny the internet the right to use its clients' music.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N1AK (864906)

      GEMA need to get with the times and realise they can't staunchly deny the internet the right to use its clients' music.

      Or Youtube need to stop profiting off providing unlicensed music? I'd have more sympathy for Google if they weren't primarily supporting copyright infringement because they profit from it. If Google were willing to sacrifice all earnings made from adverts shown on pages/videos with unlicensed content then I'd have some reason to believe they were being neutral.

    • GEMA need to get with the times and realise they can't staunchly deny the internet the right to use its clients' music.

      Why not? The law seems to say they have every right to do that. There are plenty of reasonable arguments for changing laws, but unless and until that happens, "the Internet" doesn't have the automatic right to enjoy others' copyrighted works whenever it feels like it for free.

  • Google is right because the message they display is right - or, at least, is not wrong. GEMA may not like it, and may feel offended, but YouTube is pushing to offer a service that requires users to *not* pay anything. GEMA fights against this, and Google explains that action clearly in their message.
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Why are these videos blocked? Are they being blocked at the request of GEMA? If so then it's entirely on GEMA. They just aren't man enough or honest enough to stand behind their decision. The fact that a judge is willing to side with them on this nonsense is just appalling.

      • by N1AK (864906)
        No they aren't. GEMA is asking Youtube for money to license the content and Youtube won't pay it so THEY remove the content instead. GEMA isn't asking that the video is blocked, and would much prefer that they got paid instead. Now we can debate if the fee GEMA wants is reasonable, but it isn't them asking for it to be taken down.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:59AM (#46345555)

    Is that one of those agencies that claims a blanket right to, and gathers licencing fees for, the works of every single person working in a particular field? Whether they're a royalty-receiving member or not?

  • Forcing a company to do something and then forbidding mention that force was applied? That reminds me of the US government.
  • I'm an American who lives in Germany, and this all doesn't add up - practically all of the YouTube content that I want to see see that instead has this GEMA message is AMERICAN content. GEMA certainly doesn't own the rights to much, if any of it. I've always had the understanding that somehow German agencies haven't paid the American fees to play licensed content, or something. It's an entirely different message if I want to watch, say, Swiss content that also is not properly licensed here.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      They don't own it but they have most likely licensed it for your region. That's unfortunately how the music business work. Content is created somewhere, then licensed to other companies around the world and they in turn handle local distribution.

    • by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2@anthonym c l i n.com> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:59AM (#46346377) Homepage

      You're right. They don't own it, but they are licensed to be the royalty collection entity in Germany. You'll find the member organizations to be the same or a cross-section of ASCAP members in the USA.

      In the USA, music royalties are collected and distributed back to publishers and/or artists by ASCAP or BMI. In Germany, it's GEMA. In just about every country in the world, it's a different royalty collection process and licensing entity [wikipedia.org], just like it's a different copyright and distribution process.

      This is the fundamental reason why music and video content has been so problematic in the era of the truly global internet. There are billions upon billions of dollars invested in the archaic business models, contracts, organizational infrastructure, and jobs to support the legacy model of content consumption that had been built up over nearly a century. The internet came along and destroyed it all in about a 5 year span.

  • Munich: the "Texas Eastern District Court" of Europe.
  • So are those "No copyright in this it is a fair use" messages I see on youtube not legally enforceable? I mean, I'm only listening to this whole album for criticism... Sheesh! Whoodathunkit.

  • Saying "I will kill the president" is illegal, but saying "Remember kids, saying 'I will kill the president' is illegal!" [youtube.com] is legal.

    Google should just change the message to:

    Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany.

    By the way, some pricks have a problem with us displaying the message "this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights."

    So we're definitely not going display that message.

  • Rather than completely blocking the video, what was wrong with what YouTube used to do - show the video with no sound track?

  • Making US courts seem like paragons of justice since 1934.
  • That is all

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @12:11PM (#46346531) Homepage

    I'm afraid it shouldn't be a negotiable detail. It is a free speech right of Google/YouTube to explain why something isn't available.

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