The performing rights problem (or: YouTube v GEMA)

A street musician - © court case in Germany made the international headlines last week.  Billed in some cases as “YouTube v GEMA” it dealt with the issue of whether Google has to pay royalties for the music that people upload to the YouTube service.

Since GEMA is not that well known outside of Germany, it’s probably fair to compare them with the PRS in the UK or ASCAP in the USA.  Their job is to collect royalties from anyone using the music written or composed by their members.

This is a very important point: they represent the songwriters and composers, not necessarily the artists.

Just for a moment, think about what it means if you just use a piece of music on your YouTube video, without getting permission to first.  You are probably infringing on the copyright of the record label or the performer on one level, but on another you are using words and music written by someone as well. [Read more…]

Blogging in Germany: Videos and Podcasts

Mikrofon - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / devonIf you have read my last few posts about the problems of blogging in Germany, then you will probably not be surprised to learn that making a video or an audio podcast to put online is not easy.

Let’s start with the easy part: filming something and then publishing the film, is basically no different to the situation with a photo.

But with audio, things get even more complicated.  As you might imagine, you cannot just record something and then use it.  If I record an interview for a podcast then I either get written permission to use the recording, or – if the interview is conducted by telephone – ask the interviewee to confirm their agreement once the “record” button has been pressed. [Read more…]


GEMA stands for Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte.

The GEMA is responsible for managing the rights of composers, songwriters and music publishers.  As such, it is responsible for collecting the royalties from users of music and re-distributing them to its members, similar to the Performing Right Society (PRS) in the UK.

Using music that is GEMA-registered, eg. at an event or on a website, requires the usage to be registered and paid for.  This is usually straight forward for “traditional” events, however some circumstances are more complicated, as we found out last year in the Monday Podcast.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Download the MP3 file | Subscribe to the podcast

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