Copyright

YouTube ‘blocked video’ message ruled illegal

The collecting society, GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte), has succeeded in legal action against YouTube concerning the ‘blocked video’ message displayed when videos cannot be viewed.

YouTube ‘blocked video’ message ruled illegal ©-cirquedesprit-Fotolia

YouTube ‘blocked video’ message ruled illegal ©-cirquedesprit-Fotolia

Blocked YouTube videos

Every YouTube user has experienced the problem of blocked videos when attempting to watch videos for which the rights have not been granted.

For a long time, YouTube and the German collecting society, GEMA, have been in legal dispute about the situation.

In the latest developments, a court in Munich, Germany, has ruled in favour of the GEMA. The court ruled that the message displayed by YouTube when a video is blocked is illegal.

The message displayed reads: “Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany, because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights. Sorry about that.”

Degrading

The judges ruled that the message denigrates and debases GEMA (case ref. 1 HK O 1401/13).

According to the court, the text used “presents an absolutely distorted view of the legal dispute between the two parties, to the detriment of the GEMA”.

GEMA had claimed that the message creates the impression amongst users that GEMA is responsible for blocking the videos, even though it is YouTube that implements the blocks.

Dr Herald Heker, chairman of GEMA expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision: “For almost 3 years, YouTube has been misleading the public with these blocked video messages and has been illegally influencing public perception to the detriment of GEMA. On the one hand YouTube claims not to need a licence and therefore the rights to videos. On the other hand, the blocked video messages state that the video is not viewable precisely because the relevant rights have not been granted. The court recognised this contradiction and ruled YouTube’s behaviour impermissible.”

Partner and lawyer at WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE, Christian Solmecke warned however, “The court has only prevented YouTube from displaying the messages in their current form. Provided it displays a less provocative and more neutral text, YouTube will still able to block access to videos. I assume YouTube will now simply modify the message displayed to users.”

Advertising revenue

In a press release, GEMA raises objections to the fact that YouTube does not pay royalties for using music on the website, but nevertheless generates revenue through advertising. Rather than wanting to prevent music from being shown on the internet, GEMA states that wants to grant YouTube a licence just like any other music portal.

Find more background information on the dispute between GEMA and YouTube here.

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Rafaela Wilde is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE.

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