YouTube loses court battle in Germany over music videos
Published Apr 20 2012, 15:58 BST | By Andrew Laughlin
YouTube is facing a potentially huge bill for music royalties after the Google-owned website lost a key court battle in Germany over copyrighted content.
Today, a court in Hamburg ruled that YouTube must take responsibility for all the content that users post on its site.
Gema, a royalty collection group in Germany, had called on the online service to install term-based filters that can detect when users post clips of music from its artists.
The industry group also criticised YouTube in court for allegedly not doing enough to stop copyright piracy on its service.
However, YouTube said that it could not be held responsible for what its users did, and stressed that it takes down material if specifically informed that it has been posted.
Gema, which represents around 60,000 German songwriters and musicians, based its case on 12 instances of music clips being posted on the site but no royalties being paid.
The ruling in Germany could have broader ramifications if YouTube is forced by the court to pay royalties for all clips illegally posted on the site.
YouTube also warned that the need to introduce more filtering could result in a delay in how content is posted on the site, as the company would need to clear copyright before agreeing to set new material live.
As around 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube worldwide every minute, this could have major implications for the operation.
YouTube particularly warned that such a delay could hit citizen journalists who use the video-sharing site as a vital outlet to distribute breaking news.
Parent company Google has not yet responded to the ruling.
Gema has already successfully taken action against other online services, including a ruling in March forcing file-sharing site Rapidshare to take more proactive action against pirated material on its site.
But music streaming service Grooveshark recently scrapped its German operation after complaining that licensing rates charged by Gema made it impossible to run a viable business in the country.> Adele, The xx labels win $1.6m Sirius copyright settlement> Spotify, iTunes lead to rise in UK musician's income