YouTube Signs Landmark Deal to End Music Video Blocking in Germany

After years of legal battles, YouTube and German music rights group GEMA have reached a landmark licensing agreement. As a result, Germans now have access to tens of thousands of music videos that were previously "not available" in their country.

youtubehappyOver the years, many Germans have gotten used to YouTube’s blocking notice, which prevented them from playing music videos that are widely available in the rest of the world.

At the root of this issue is a dispute between the video hosting platform and GEMA, a local music group that claims to represent 70,000 artists.

YouTube and GEMA have been fighting several court cases for more than half a decade, but today they announced a breakthrough.

The two parties have signed a licensing agreement where the video hosting platform agrees to pay a fee for making the music videos of GEMA members available in Germany. As a result, the blocking notifications on many videos will disappear.

“This is a win for music artists around the world, enabling them to reach new and existing fans in Germany, while also earning money from the advertising on their videos,” says YouTube’s Christophe Muller.

“And for YouTube users in Germany, who will no longer see a blocking message on music content that contains GEMA repertoire, for the first time in seven years.”

YouTube created a special GIF to celebrate the occasion

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GEMA is happy with the outcome as well, in particular because YouTube agreed to pay retroactive compensation for videos that have been published since the start of the dispute in 2009.

“After seven years of tough negotiations, signing a deal with YouTube marks a milestone for GEMA and its members,” GEMA’s Harald Heker comments.

“What is crucial is that the license agreement covers publications from both the future and the past. With this agreement, we can provide our members their royalties,” he adds.

Increasingly, music groups are criticizing YouTube for “profiting” from the hard work of artists without paying proper compensations, so it’s not unlikely that similar deals will follow in other countries.

On the other hand, music insiders have also complained about GEMA’s restrictive policies. Sony Music’s Edgar Berger previously said that millions were lost because of the YouTube ban. At the same time, some musicians complained that there were not able to share their music freely.

With this in mind, the current agreement is certainly a big step forward for both musicians and the public at large.

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