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Those Stunning Russian Meteorite YouTube Videos Are Being Censored in Germany -- Can You Guess Why?


"Just the latest example of a ridiculous situation."

While the rest of the world might have turned to YouTube over the past week to see video posted of a meteor blazing down over Russia Friday, some were blocked in Germany due to background music picked up by car dashcams along with the stunning footage.

(Image: @jke via Ars Technica)

Many vehicles in Russia have dashcams for insurance purposes. In addition to picking up footage of what is going on in front of the vehicle, some will pick up noise inside the car as well. Those videos posted to YouTube with music being played in the car were blocked on the site in Germany due to an ongoing dispute between Google, which owns YouTube, and GEMA, the country's performance copyright agency.

Ars Technica called this "just the latest example of a ridiculous situation."

Here's more from Ars Technica regarding the dispute:

Germany doesn’t have an equivalent of the American fair useprovision, which this would almost certainly fall under in the United States. Google did not immediately respond to Ars’ requests for comment. However, Google did provide a statement (Google Translate) on February 16, 2013 to the German Journalists’ Union (DJV), which first raised the issue last week. (Full disclosure: I was a DJV member when I was living and working in Germany as a journalist from March 2010 to March 2012.)

“YouTube has no insight into what rights GEMA represents,” the Google subsidiary wrote. “Due to the legal and financial risks that result from these processes in the context of GEMA’s [published royalty fee structure], music videos are blocked in Germany.”

A German court ruled that YouTube is responsible when users post copyrighted music clips without permission. In a test case that could have huge implications for YouTube if it has to pay royalties for all clips posted on its website, the German royalty collections body GEMA sued YouTube over 12 specific music videos to which it holds the rights. (Photo: AFP/Getty/KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND)

Earlier this month, TechCrunch reported that the dispute between YouTube and GEMA began in 2009 when GEMA initially asked for 12 Euro cents per stream of music that was copyrighted under the artists it represents. Negotiations have been going on since:

Subsequent negotiations to agree a rate broke down, and GEMA went on to sue YouTube in a 2010 test case for distributing copyrighted material without permission — holding it responsible for copyrighted material uploaded by its users. Then in April last year a German court ruled that YouTube must install software filters to prevent users uploading content whose rights GEMA holds.

Outside the courtroom, negotiations to find a mutually acceptable rate for streaming GEMA-rights-owned music videos resumed but have today broken down again. Die Welt reports that GEMA wants the German Patent and Trademark Office to arbitrate on whether its proposed rate of 0.375 cents [$0.005] per stream is appropriate — but YouTube is arguing for a lower rate.

YouTube said in a statement that although it believes artists and others with copyrights should reap benefits of their work, it thinks those in Germany are missing this opportunity "as a result of GEMA's decisions.

"We remain committed to finding a solution with GEMA compatible with YouTube’s business model so that we can again provide a source of revenue for musicians and a vibrant platform for music lovers in Germany," the video sharing website stated.

Germany's The Local stated that an app created by OpenDataCity recently revealed that the country has blocked 61.5 percent of YouTube's top 1,000 videos due to the copyright dispute.



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