What’s the deal with German Youtube?!

“Dieser Video ist in Deutschland leider nicht verfügbar, da es Musik enthalten könnte, über deren Verwendung wir uns mit der GEMA bisher nicht einigen könnten”

Any YouTube user who has spent time living in Germany has probably seen this message, accompanied by a frowning red face, more times than they can count. The message bans viewing a video on the popular video platform due to copyright infringement. YouTube, an American owned video sharing platform that was bought by Google in 2006, allows individual users and companies alike to upload visual and audio materials. Videos can then be found using a search feature or featured as part of the homepage or theme specific pages. Though the uploader of the video holds copyright, there remains an “opt out” feature called creative commons which allows users to share the media without fear of copyright infringement.  

Germany’s GEMA, the German Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights, has had an especially difficult relationship with YouTube. It is the opinion of GEMA, whose 60,000 members are made up of lyricists, composers, and authors, that anyone who listens to music videos on the platform should have to pay the authors for their use. YouTube and GEMA have been in discussions on how to come to a deal since 2009. With no agreement made, YouTube has infamously blocked German users from the videos of thousands of musical artists.

After long negotiations, YouTube and GEMA reached a landmark agreement Tuesday morning. In return for GEMA members receiving profit for each view of their video, the red screen blocking German YouTube viewers from music videos has been removed. This change has made waves in the generation that came of age with the internet and has spent years running into the copyright message. The change also allows music producers to use YouTube as a free advertising platform for their music and a tool to acquire new fans while still monetizing their music.

The agreement, according to Thomas Theune from GEMA, is a landmark decision as it shows a middle ground is possible between Creative Commons and privatized media. Both users and artists can mutually benefit from the popular platform.