STRAIGHT FROM THE crazy but true files comes this tale of German copyright woe. Only a week ago, every internet-connected eyeball on earth was glued to a screen as people flocked to YouTube, checking out meteorites exploding over Russia. That is, everyone but the Germans.
This wasn’t due to pent up issues from World War II, but something even more bonkers. You see, It appears that the increasingly fraught relationship between GEMA (the German performance rights organisation) and Google (YouTube’s parent company), saw many of the Russian YouTube meteor clips blocked. The reason? The clips had music playing on car radios. I kid you not.
As nuts as this may sound, it isn’t all that uncommon. A huge amount of YouTube video clips containing music are simply blocked to German viewers because Google assumes the music rights might be held by GEMA.
Adding further complications to an already messy situation, Germany doesn’t have a fair use provision baked into their copyright law. Ironically, it is precisely this that all those Russian meteor clips (complete with car radio music) would have been covered under.
GEMA say they’d happily grant YouTube a license, and that they’d purposely avoided taking legal steps for alleged infringements because doing so could damage negotiations between GEMA and Google. Underneath all that rhetoric however, the reality is most probably likely to involve money.
Indications are that GEMA is seeking royalty payments from YouTube of €0.00375 (NZ$0.00596263) per streamed clip, which considering that a Russian meteor clip on YouTube already has 29,413,095 views, could in theory net GEMA a tidy NZ$17,5379.40: not bad, considering this income was generated by a Lada car radio.
Negotiations are continuing, but I for one wouldn’t be holding my breath. Either way you look at it, the situation is utterly crazy. Here’s hoping that GEMA and Google can start playing nice, and that the archaic state of copyright in Germany is fixed so those poor Germans can finally get a decent dose of YouTube goodness. PAT PILCHER