The whole world tuned in to YouTube last week to watch the amazing Russian meteor videos. The whole world, minus our German-speaking friends in Europe.
Various versions of the Russian meteor video have been blocked in Germany over a tense song rights battle, reports MSN. GEMA, the main performance rights org. in Germany is asking for a “per stream rate” of $0.005 for a song playing in every version of the video.
“I don’t remember a song” you might be saying. “Why not just watch a Russian meteor video without a soundtrack?” you reason. Well that’s the kicker. The song in question is in every version of the video because it’s playing on the car radio in the background.
OpenDataCity did a study on the subject, and found that more than 60 percent of the top 1,000 YouTube videos are completely unavailable in Germany.
Critics are saying that GEMA’s blocking is tantamount to a limitation of free press, but the problem is more complex than that. Germany doesn’t have an equivalent of the American provision of “fair use,” which would almost certainly cover the video in this instance.
We’re guessing that the song at the center of the problem is Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love.” If so, the question becomes: Does GEMA own the rights to that song in Germany?
The answer is: They don’t have to answer. Both Google (YouTube’s parent company) and GEMA are playing coy about the whole thing. Wired UK reached out to both companies for an explanation, but got pretty vague answers. Google is complaining that they have no idea whether GEMA can even make such a rights claim, and GEMA is responding that they’re never had problems with YouTube before, all they need to do is pony up the dough.
At an impasse, GEMA has “broken off” talks with YouTube and brought their complaint before the Arbitration Board of the German Patent and Trademark Office.
Here’s the Russian meteor video again. If you’re in Germany and can’t see it, you’ll just have to blame Leona Lewis or the car’s driver for not turning his radio down, I guess.