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YouTube puts Germany into digital dark ages
Photo: DPA

YouTube puts Germany into digital dark ages

Published: 30 Jan 2013 07:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Jan 2013 07:22 GMT+01:00

It’s common occurrence for internet users in Germany. A friend sends around a link to a cool band or the new David Bowie song, but clicking through to the popular video platform YouTube ends the journey with the frustrating notice: “This video is not available in Germany because it possibly contains music for which GEMA hasn’t approved the rights.”

And now an app developed by the Berlin-based data journalism outfit OpenDataCity shows the extent of the digital embargo. Germany cannot see 61.5 percent of YouTube’s top 1,000 videos – far more than the 15 percent blocked in South Sudan and the five percent that is taboo in the Vatican.


Supported by MyVideo. Made by OpenDataCity. This App is under CC-BY 3.0.

The reason for the web blackout is YouTube’s row with GEMA, which is demanding €0.00375 each time a video is played. YouTube, on the other hand, is offering a share of its ad revenue, seeing itself as a platform rather than music provider.

Though GEMA has made itself very unpopular in Germany for its much-criticized approach to collecting royalties in the internet era, most of the videos are blocked pre-emptively by YouTube.

GEMA is now suing YouTube for making it seem like it is condemning German web users to the digital dark ages.

The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:11 January 30, 2013 by crm114
one could use Opera with its YouTube unblocker.
08:32 January 30, 2013 by Englishted
GEMA is at fault here ,show your dislike on a Facebook page.

So backwards and stupid but mainly greedy.
08:41 January 30, 2013 by Gemhund
Gema causes much more harm than just merely music videos being blocked.

Also blocked are teaching videos, videos on new techniques and technology, for instance.

This should be regarded as an act of treason against the German people.

The entire Gema structure should be dismantled and the leaders prosecuted.
09:12 January 30, 2013 by jpl82
I agree Gema is the reason, though "treason" is going a little too far. It should be that private non commercial use is hassle free, while public or commercial use you pay up for. That way they wouldn't be annoying the majority of german internet users. If they (Gema) keep annoying the average joe eventually the population will demand laws to stop them doing just that (pirate party). They should be reasonable and compromise for their own good.
09:47 January 30, 2013 by mobaisch
can someone please help? why is it only in germany? is GEMA taking money from other countries? what is making it blocked only in germany? i heard its related to court issues but shouldnt be international matter? GERMA is german?

I am neither being sarcastic nor smartass, if someone provides some help, he or she is very thankful
09:53 January 30, 2013 by BobbyBaxter
The other day I tried to watch a video that was blocked by GEMA. The irony was the video contained NO music but there was mention of a song in the title of the video.

F**k GEMA.

By the way does anyone else have that really annoying Hewlett Packard advert popping all the time when watching YT vids....? Just asking ;)
10:16 January 30, 2013 by wood artist
I'm not going to repeat my previous comments on this subject beyond saying GEMA will block anything and everything and there is no recourse...even when they are completely and utterly wrong.

wa
10:21 January 30, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
GEMA is a disgrace. Belongs to the cold war period. Most music artists would prefer it went away also as it restricts their ability to spread their music. I have a youtube unblocker also. GEMA can sue me if they like. They haven't a leg to stand on in getting between me and someone elses music. They have no rights to it. Media thugs and I hope the courts come down against them soon and any laws supporting them are changed. Time to move with the times Germany. You have too many middle men dipping their hands in peoples and business's pockets and doing little or nothing to justify their existence.
10:53 January 30, 2013 by michael4096
People overestimate the speed of technological change but underestimate its lasting effect. The internet's effect on publishing is a wonderful example.GEMA is on the wrong side of history.

Though it isn't the only one. RIP Aaron Swartz. And, in the US, using that subsidized handy on the wrong network can get you 5 years in prison - 10 for a repeat offence.
11:24 January 30, 2013 by Sonnenschein030
GEMA is the German version of the US ASCAP royalty system. The idea was a novel one in the beginning. Get starving musicians money for their work, but it has grown into a bloated organization filled with over-paid lawyers who want to maintain their fat pay checks.

Ask ANY musician....Hardly any of the money gets the the actual starving musicians. They are now just leeching off the intellectual property of someone else and really should not have the legal authority they have to make demands for payment for SOMEONE else's work. Technically, even your average street performer that is playing their OWN work is suppose to file paperwork with GEMA to perform said works in public. What a joke!

I can see the day that GEMA hires street performer auditors to demand proof that the proper documents have been filed with GEMA and payment arrangements to play their OWN works are made in advance. The street performer would HAVE to collect money to pay the GEMA fees!

The only way around GEMA is to have a private performance. Clubs should really revolt and accept attendance by explicit invitation for private performances only. Thus making any music performance a private event that no longer falls under the legal authority of the GEMA system. Only after all the money dries up will GEMA have to start laying off the over-paid lawyers, thus reducing GEMA's effectiveness at collection. They use search engine technology to scan club, personal musician web pages for performance dates. It is very likely they will just send you an invoice with a demand for payment if any of that information is available on the internet and searchable.
11:51 January 30, 2013 by Edin
It actually shows very well how a German bureaucracy can sometimes be very backward and damaging for its own people. I see it every day at work and in public handling.... It is really appalling.
12:27 January 30, 2013 by ChrisRea
@ crm114

Thanks for the tip. It works!

@ mobaisch

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesellschaft_f%C3%BCr_musikalische_Auff%C3%BChrungs-_und_mechanische_Vervielf%C3%A4ltigungsrechte
12:58 January 30, 2013 by Mr.Ed
Install this app on your mozilla. https://proxtube.com/ It won't work on 100% of all youtube videos but for a lot of them, it sure will.

Then again, why is there such a big fuss about it? Fair enough, youtube has probably the biggest music / video file availability on the web but it's hardly the only one. There's Daily motion, Metacafe, Vimeo, etc..

Besides, If u still can't find what u're looking for, just google whatever u'd like to see and hit 'videos'. Some interesting results will probably come up.
14:14 January 30, 2013 by raandy
I use Opera for U-tube, I use but pay for unblock-us for netflex and amazon prime, 5$ dollars a month. All should be unnecessary, it comes directly to my IP thru streaming and I pay for the services.

GEMA, why should they be paid for service that I have already paid for.This is far different than file sharing where you can burn DVDs or music CDs with out consent of the creator and decrease their revenue.
14:57 January 30, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
i have that one @MrEd. If GEMA can block content then we can block GEMA. Fük them.
19:03 January 30, 2013 by pingbong
As I said before: Boycott GEMA! Use V-P-N, proxies and don¦#39;t pay GErmanMAfia. I can suggest using paid services (3-5$ per month) and don't use free adware or spyware addons.

+How you like the idea of anonymous:

The only way to stop GEMA and others from doing false censorship is to put their nuts in the vice and to turn the handle. Or in other words to hit them in the money with an automatic fine for issuing a false take down request where the fine should quickly scale up the more false censorship they do.

As for me, when I was in Germany I used Nederlands VPN, so here are some invitations to f**k GErmanMAfia: seed4.me/invitations - Herzlich Willkommen!
21:13 January 30, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
This time, most of us seem to agree on a subject. Gema is one of the typical German organisations which live from extracting hard earned money from the pockets of normal citizens. The reason for its existence is in no way justified. The people it was supposed to help have very little from the excess profits being made. Mafia is certainly the best description I have read.
02:10 January 31, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
02:26 January 31, 2013 by wood artist
@Louie

The problem is that GEMA is only doing what you suggest.

Short version: I write. I compose. I have posted arias from my most recent opera on Youtube. I wrote the libretto, I composed the music, I created the video on my own computer. GEMA blocks them, saying there "might be" a copyright issue. Since I own all of it, exactly who else could have a valid claim? When I ask, they won't respond beyond the standard form email.

In a nutshell, they're just a bunch of thugs. I can't even see my own work when I'm in Germany because it's routed through a German ISP. Why should I have to tolerate that, and...if they're supposedly protecting me...the starving musician...where's my money?

wa
08:15 January 31, 2013 by Icke Ricke
Set the music free!
18:43 January 31, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:26 January 31, 2013 by Gemhund
Louie, you and your attitude are precisely the problem
23:17 January 31, 2013 by mitanni
Far worse than GEMA is VG WORT, because the content VG WORT controls actually matters.

@Louie I don't want to use your music, and I doubt you have ever produced anything worthwhile. Yet, I am forced to pay hundreds of euros a year in fees on media and device that go to people like you.
23:23 January 31, 2013 by Redwing
Of my 106 mostly wildlife videos on youtube 5 are blocked in Germany because I used German classical music. The irony is I used parts of the same piece for two videos, one is blocked, the other isn't. I am German and feel totally entitled to use the vinyl records I bought 50 years ago or more. I do not monetize my videos.

Just a fortnight ago I uploaded a video of the annular eclipse in May in Bryce Canyon, Utah, for which I used a Native Indian flute piece by John Huling from a CD I bought in Arizona in 1997. The German music distributor Dance All Day slapped adverts on it claiming it was a tune called Ya'ah'tee from the album Daheen on the Regen record label which was released in September 2011. I listened to it on line; it was the same tune but overlaid with electronic drums and spoken "song". It is quite awful. I protested, but was overruled. Then I wrote three mails to DAD, two in German and one in English. I was threatened with being struck off by YT unless I could prove that I had not infringed DAD's copyright. I stuck to my guns and Dance all Day retreated and removed all adverts.

GEMA is giving Germany a bad name here in the UK among my YT friends.
00:01 February 1, 2013 by raandy
Louie, you ain't preaching to the choir, Gema is the dark side of paranoia,if you are their suporter I am not yours, simple and just.
00:54 February 1, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
05:51 February 1, 2013 by Icke Ricke
Maybe I should have said more in my post about setting the music free, and that I did not mean free-loading. Musicians should get credited for their music and I am totally against pirating and teach my children the same; maybe this is not the norm, I do not know. But if it was not for YouTube I never would have noticed Nightwish, upon which I recently purchased the 'End of an Era' dvd & cd's. However I do think that most fans do supports their bands.
07:40 February 1, 2013 by Englishted
@Louie

When you can prove why you block say,English music from 30 years ago or prove that the money collected goes to the original artist fair enough.

But you can't ,and until German gets rid of GEMA it will remain a music (not classical) backwater.

Also who says GEMA has the right to "grant rights" particularly to none German bands and artists?
12:43 February 1, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:33 February 1, 2013 by raandy
Louie

I will have you know that i pay for all my music via itunes, but I listen to it via utube, and that my daft friend is not stealing, I can get the utube video in the US and I do, but not here.

So the next time I am in Big Buy or Walmart where you can listen to an artist music using those nasty headsets I am also stealing.
16:11 February 1, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:40 February 1, 2013 by raandy
Louie,

Ok, reasonable comeback.

My point is that for some reason here in Germany they can not reach an agreement, why here and not elsewhere? Iam sure that in the USA they are remunerated for their creative content.

I believe GEMA in its draconian approach to protecting artist, are infringing upon the principal of internet freedom. I am not advocating that creative content should be free, I am wondering why it is a problem mainly here in Germany.You obviously know more about this subject than I so why in Germany and for lack of a better example not in the USA.
18:58 February 1, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:09 February 1, 2013 by raandy
Louie my good man, it could be there inherent desire to protect you but Iam dubious. -:)
19:15 February 1, 2013 by mitanni
@Louie "So the answer again is that if you don't like paying for music compose some yourself, then you shouldn't have to pay for it."

That is a bald faced lie. In Germany, I have to pay tons of money for music, film, or TV I don't want to hear or see. I am forced to pay for radio and TV fees, through device fees, and through taxes.

And I'm not a cheapskate: I buy music. I simply do not want to listen to, or buy, the kind of garbage produced by German artists.
19:39 February 1, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:24 February 1, 2013 by Englishted
@ Louie

If what you say about the agreement with the U.K. is correct and I have no reason to doubt your word.

Why are the you tube video available in the U.K. and not here?
20:31 February 1, 2013 by mitanni
@Louie "Tough luck mitanni. If you don't like the system you don't have to come here."

Unfortunately, for personal reasons, I do. And since I am forced to pay for this nonsense, I certainly have a right to complain about it.

The fact remains: you're lying when you say that people have a choice whether to pay for music or not. In Germany, everybody is forced to pay, whether they want to listen to the crappy music German "artists" produce these days or not.
22:35 February 1, 2013 by AClassicRed
It is somewhat off-topic the reality mitanni presented, about how being forced to pay taxes on TV and radios even if you do not have one, yet it is true. I don't have either of these things by choice, lack of interest or no need for them. There are of course others like me, but yes we are forced to pay anyway, basically for other people who do.

This new law is one of the most self-serving, arbitrary (and I don't say it often) but dumb things the German government has inflicted recently. I agree with that part of the comment completely. The other part about crappy music German 'artists' etc. however, lessened their comment into the realm of petty, personal snark.

As far as Louie goes, I can understand belief in and support of an organization they feel benefits certain parties they are involved in. I certainly agree with aspects of the principles, as a writer and publisher, you put an enormous amount of time, creativity, funds and your spirit into your and your clients' work. Having people steal from you, which is what it is, when they illegally download, share, etc. isn't what you want, need or should have to tolerate.

Basically, I think they have a good "heart" and mission, but GEMA needs to reevaluate some of its goals and pursuits and yes, as some others have suggested, come into the 21st century and find new ways to protect artists without antagonizing and alienating society in general. That will only lead to their eventual downfall.
02:29 February 2, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:32 February 2, 2013 by mitanni
@louie I'm an American writer every time one of my articles has gotten copied in Germany over the past 20 years, and the money has gone to German writers. Some of my writing is cc licensed but VGWORT and GEMA effectively still charge for it and send the money to people like you . If people buy fewer German books or music, these organizations just jack up their charges to compensate. And what is being blocked on YouTube? Mainly American videos made with American Music.

Don't tell me that GEMA is about artist's rights, those are protected by copyright. GEMA is about German artists enriching themselves based on the creative output of others.
11:11 February 2, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:35 February 16, 2013 by Maynard33
Does Germany operate using the paradigm of rapism of females as the root and model of war, racism, man-made poverty, chemical contamination, and cencorship?
11:02 February 19, 2013 by wethepeople2012
GEMA is basically like the mafia-at first they will terrorize businesses in order to get them to pay for protection.
20:58 February 21, 2013 by Froggels
Another good way to get around the block is to use the Proxfree website which is optimized for youtube.
21:16 February 22, 2013 by Ohiosux
I'm pretty sure that this should be called "GEMA puts Germany into digital dark ages". This is a very ridiculous mistake that will cause outrage a YouTube. VEVO polices YouTube itself. GEMA is too lazy and wants YouTube to do it for them.
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