Thursday08 December 2022

YouTube not liable in Germany for users' copyright infringement

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YouTube and copyright has been a controversial subject since they first hit the internet. The problem is who is liable for copyright infringement. Is it the poster or the service? The copyright gang would love to tell you it is both. They want the chance to go after the individuals and also to be sure to get financially compensated by the service provider. Sadly in the US the courts are siding with the copyright cartels for a multitude of reasons (none are based on how technology works though). In EMEA, well things are a tad different over there.

YouTube has won something of a victory in Germany where the copyright group GEMA has been trying to milk money from YouTube on the grounds that they made money off of the infringement. GEMA is one of those groups that is little more than a copyright troll even though they claim they are a “music rights group”. They go around and look for anything the might be infringing and send out notices to take it down. They also like to go after ISPs and other services that host content to ensure that they get paid.

However, the German Court system has decided that going after a content hosting service for infringement by users of that service is just a little too much. There is already a law the exempts services like YouTube from infringement based on user uploads. The music industry is not happy with the law as they feel they should still get paid even if the service provider cannot control what is uploaded by a user. They are looking at it from the stand point that the service will still get money from ads, etc. in the time it takes to find and take down the infringing material. They feel that this money, or a part of it, should go to the producers and artists. Of course, the fact that the majority will go to the label is left out in their passionate pleas to the courts for justice.

The ruling by the Higher Regional Court of Munich upholds one from the lesser court, but is not the final stop on the legal trail. As you might have already suspected GEMA plans to appeal the decision and probably very soon. If they lose, I wonder if this ruling could be used as a global precedent in other cases. What would happen if this was thrown into cases like the one against Kim Dotcom or Charter? It would set the copyright industry back on their heels for sure. Of course they already have some bad news in the form of a paper from the US Department of Commerce saying that excessive damages and copyright trolling should not be tolerated.

It is important to avoid excessive and inconsistent awards that risk encouraging disrespect for copyright law or chilling investment in innovation. And the abusive enforcement campaigns reported by commenters should not be tolerated,
You can bet this is going to annoy a few people in the industry…

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