While YouTube users in the US no doubt hate getting the “This video is unavailable in your country” notification ruining their video-viewing experience, it’s thankfully at least a pretty uncommon occurrence. For those living in Germany, however, it’s an often faced roadblock.
GEMA, whose acronym stands for “Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte,” which translates to the much tidier “Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights” in English, has long stood in the way of Germans viewing around 68,000 Germany-based copyright holders’ content — or at least according to YouTube they have:
In a court decision handed down today by the District Court of Munich, YouTube was ordered to stop giving the above notice to viewers with Germany-based IP addresses watching GEMA-represented content because it essentially vilified the copyright organization and “totally distorted representation of the legal dispute between the parties.”
GEMA CEO Harald Heker said in a statement: “For almost three years, YouTube has misled the public with these blocking messages and unlawfully influenced public opinion at the expense of GEMA.”
The decision comes after a years-long dispute over content streaming fees. As far back as 2007, GEMA content was available to German viewers on YouTube because of the then licensing agreement between the two parties. Two years later, however, GEMA asked for 0.12 euros per stream, and Google balked, resulting in GEMA content officially being pulled from YouTube. However, in 2010, GEMA went back to court in order to force Google to have illegally uploaded GEMA titles blocked to local users on their video site. That case was eventually ruled in GEMA’s favor in the Regional Court of Hamburg, which brings us to today.
The notifications placed on GEMA videos to viewers in Germany have now been ordered down, and any instances of the notices still up after the decision is finalized will cost Google 250,000 euros (roughly equivalent to $342,000) in fines.