YouTube guilty of its users' copyright infringement says a German court

By EDRi · September 8, 2010

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Deutsch: [Deutschland: YouTube wegen Verletzung von Urheberrechten verurteilt |]

On 3 September 2010, the German Hamburg state court ruled that Google’s
subsidiary YouTube had to pay damages for not having prevented and
blocked the upload by its users of several videos of Sarah Brightman’s
performances, thus violating its copyright.

Although YouTube uses a standardized form to users regarding their right
to publish materials, the court did not find this enough and considered
YouTube as legally responsible for the content uploaded, especially as the
platform can be used anonymously, in the court’s opinion.

YouTube uses Content ID, an anti-pirating technology to check out videos.
Now the page for adding videos includes now a warning that uploading
copyrighted content is not allowed unless the uploader is the right holder
or has previously received the right holders’ agreement.

A prior verification of all the materials made available on the platform
would however create a huge problem for YouTube as, according to last year’s
figures, 24h of video were uploaded every minute, which makes the measure
impossible from the financial as well as personnel point of view. Also, this
would be contrary to the EU E-commerce directive which specifically states
that such an online service has not a general obligation to “monitor the
information which they transmit or store, nor a general obligation actively
to seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity.”

YouTube must not publish those videos anymore and has to provide information
to establish the amount of compensation for the uploading of the videos.
Google will appeal the decision.

In another case in Germany one week before, Google had a slight success
in its trial with the German collective societies, when the court declined
to issue a preliminary injunction against YouTube. But the court also
estimated that the collective societies may have the right to ask for taking
down of videos for which collective contributions haven’t been paid, but
this needs to be proven during the trial, not in an interim injunction.

The court’s decision is the result of a long battle between collective
society GEMA, the German Society for musical performing and mechanical
reproduction rights, and Google, who have been trying for over a year to
renegotiate a license expired in March 2009.

GEMA and other collective societies have failed so far to obtain in court
the injunction of YouTube but what they actually want is to get paid for
Internet broadcast of the videos. The negotiations have failed because there
is a discrepancy between the payment expectations of the two sides. GEMA is
used to the traditional method of royalty collection where a user pays at
every broadcast of a copyrighted material, while YouTube, generating its
revenues from advertising, does not charge users to watch videos.

German court rules against YouTube over copyright (4.09.2010)

German judge chides Google over YouTube freeloading (31.08.2010)

German battle over YouTube royalties wages on (27.08.2010),,5951245,00.html