April 21, 2012
YouTube Held Responsible For Music Clips
This court case highlights one of the many legally sticky areas surrounding YouTube: If the service is free and open to all users, who is held responsible for what is hosted on the site? As far as this Hamburg court is concerned, YouTube is now responsible for the content on its site, and may have to pay out fines for any copyrighted material found therein. Reaching beyond video uploads, this decision could have ramifications for other internet publishers, forcing them to pay royalties as well.
YouTube said it wasn´t responsible for the actions of their users, but responded whenever issues of copyright violations arose.
According to BBC News, a YouTube spokesperson said, “Today´s ruling confirms that YouTube as a hosting platform cannot be obliged to control the content of all videos uploaded to the site.”
“We remain committed to finding a solution to the music licensing issue in Germany that will benefit artists, composers, authors, publishers and record labels, as well as the wider YouTube community,” they added.
This decision comes a month after a US appeals court revived lawsuits from Viacom Inc., the English Premier League, and other media companies over the hosting of copyrighted material found on the popular video site.
The suit in Germany contained 7 specific music clips found in uploaded videos and was brought against YouTube in 2010 by German royalty collections agency GEMA, as well as other music rights groups.
The court did not say YouTube had to actively seek out these violations, however, but must do so at the request of the rights holder.
This decision had to come as good news to YouTube, who says there are some 60 hours of video uploaded to their site very minute.
3 Billion hours of video are watched on the platform every month, according to YouTube.
A GEMA spokesperson told Reuters, “This in an important partial victory.”
GEMA represents more than 64,000 musicians and songwriters and asks that streaming and music-on-demand platforms which receive income through advertising shell out 10% of their music revenues.
Furthermore, very interactive sites should pay at least .6 euro cents (or $0.008) per stream.
This court ruling not only answers in part the question of who is responsible for web content hosted online, but also the emerging question of how to allow users to consume popular television shows, movies and music without having to pay a fortune in royalties.
Those who want to more protection for music and media companies have met opposition from those who worry more regulation will mean less freedom to download and share these mediums, thus restricting their availability online.
Google has said they are prepared to resume negotiations with GEMA to seek an agreement about the use of copyrighted material.
As courts crack down on copyright infringement, cases such as these will begin to gain more attention from the public eye.