GEMA ends licensing dispute with YouTube

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German collecting society GEMA has signed a landmark licensing deal with YouTube, ending years of legal disputes and negotiations.

The agreement covers the contractual gap since 2009 and allows the society’s 70,000 songwriters, composers and publishers to receive remuneration for the use of their works on the platform.

On top of the advert-based streaming service, the agreement covers the new subscription service that YouTube plans to launch in Europe.

As part of the deal, YouTube will also remove its blocked content notices on music videos containing GEMA repertoire protected by copyright.

Dr Harald Heker, GEMA chief executive, said: ‘After seven years of tough negotiations the conclusion of this contract with YouTube marks a milestone for GEMA and its members.

‘We remained true to our position that authors should also get a fair remuneration in the digital age, despite the resistance we met. It is crucial that the licensing agreement that we have now signed covers both the future and the past. By reaching this agreement, we can secure the royalties for our members.’

However, there are still different legal positions held by YouTube and GEMA on the issue of whether YouTube or the uploaders are responsible for the licensing of the used musical works.

Heker added: ‘Despite the conclusion of this agreement, the challenge remains for the politicians to create a clear legal framework. The economic value of cultural and creative works must also be passed on to the creators of the works. A modern copyright needs to be created which enables music creators to claim their financial share in the digital value chain.’

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