Digital Top Stories

YouTube GEMA talks falter

By | Published on Wednesday 12 May 2010

Remember how when YouTube fell out with PRS For Music last year over royalty rates for music videos played on the Google-owned website, that a similar dispute kicked off in Germany with collecting society GEMA? Well, while PRS eventually reached a compromise with Google over video royalty rates, talks have been ongoing in Germany ever since, and yesterday they broke down somewhat acrimoniously.

The story is the same. GEMA says Google is generating billions from YouTube-style services on the back of its members’ songs, but Google says that at the royalty rates currently being demanded by the collecting society they would make a loss every time a music video was played, even if they sold all the ad spots around their player.

Originally it was Google that insisted so called ‘premium music content’ be removed from YouTube when talks fell through with PRS and then GEMA, but now it’s the German collecting society that is demanding the removal of videos which include songs owned by its members. Talking tough, they said in a statement: “Operators of online platforms which generate [revenue through] the use of copyrighted works – such as, in YouTube’s case, millions in advertising revenue – must ensure that those who create these works, providing the so-called ‘content’, are properly remunerated”.

GEMA say they are supported by a bunch of other collecting societies around the world in their stand off with YouTube – though PRS isn’t one of them. Whether that means this dispute has the potential to hinder any future licensing deals between YouTube and the music publishing sector in other territories isn’t clear. US societies ASCAP and BMI are among those GEMA claims to have support from.