Wednesday 2 November 2016

The sound of music: Youtube and GEMA finally settle

It's been one of the biggest stand-offs in digital music history - but now it appears that YouTube and German collection society GEMA have finally reached a licensing agreement - meaning German consumers can now finally (legally) use YouTube to stream music videos

Someone must have blinked, although the blank screens in one of the world's major economies clearly helped neither side. Now the platform and the collection society say they had reached a new deal for compensating music publishers (and songwriter artists), resolving a dispute that began in 2009. The resolution comes against a backdrop of European officials reviewing the region’s copyright rules - potentially giving more power to record labels, publishers and other content producers over the likes of Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook. The labels, music publishers and more recently recording artistes have accused YouTube of grossly under paying for using sound recordings and music.

YouTube declared the settlement as a victory for musicians, saying they could reach “new and existing fans in Germany,” while GEMA said its 70,000 members would receive “fair remuneration” when their works were played over the platform. But neither side published the details of the agreement.

YouTube’s Head of International Music Partnerships, Christophe Muller said: “We’re committed to ensuring that writers, composers and publishers continue to be paid fairly, and that our users are able to enjoy their favourite songs and discover new music on the platform" adding "We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement with GEMA to help their members earn revenue and to enable new musical talents to emerge" and "YouTube has evolved into an important source of promotion and revenue for musicians and we are pleased that GEMA members will benefit from their creative work on YouTube.”

In a blog post, YouTube wrote: "This agreement reflects a long-held commitment that composers, songwriters, and publishers should be paid fairly, while ensuring fans can enjoy their favorite songs and discover new music on YouTube ..... That commitment has helped YouTube evolve into an important source of promotion and revenue for musicians. As such, we continue to invest in our rights management system, Content ID, to protect rights owners while continuing to innovate and create new and exciting YouTube features such as VR and 360, that can heighten the music experience on YouTube even more."

In a press release GEMA added:

There are still different legal positions held by YouTube and GEMA on the issue of whether YouTube or the uploaders are responsible for the licensing of the used musical works.

Irrespective of these diverging views, GEMA and YouTube decided to look forward and create a secure foundation for GEMA members and YouTube users.

And Heker added  “Despite the conclusion of this agreement, the challenge remains for the politicians to create a clear legal framework. The economic value of cultural and creative works must also be passed on to the creators of the works."

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