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Thursday, June 7, 2012

YouTube Ruled Responsible for Copyright Infringement

Germany court handed down a decision saying that YouTube is responsible for copyright infringement when its users upload copyright-protected videos. Aside from the existing ContentID systems, the court in Hamburg required from YouTube to install extra keyword-based filters to find out if uploaded content is legitimate or not.


The legal battle between YouTube and German anti-piracy outfit GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte) has started a couple years ago. Meanwhile, an earlier agreement with the group, which represents about 60,000 musicians, had expired back in 2009.

Rather than accepting a negotiation settlement offered by the streaming service, German anti-piracy outfit filed lawsuit on copyright grounds against the most popular service across the globe. The case was launched due to a dozen of specific music videos published by YouTube users. According to the claims of the music right outfit, the efforts of YouTube to monitor submitted material weren’t enough. Finally, a court in Hamburg ruled that the streaming service is directly responsible for the content published by its users, regardless of the fact that the service has enforced the latest filters to block illegal material.

The judge announced that the ruling in question can be considered a victory for both sides. The pro-copyright outfit wanted YouTube to take responsibility for both the content uploaded in the past, and which will be uploaded from now on. However, the court denied this demand, saying that YouTube wasn’t the perpetrator there, it was those users who illegally uploaded the protected works. In other words, YouTube won’t have to search all the files uploaded in the past, but will only have to help find the videos from the moment it’s warned about possible violations.

Now the streaming service is using the “ContentID” anti-piracy system that is able to detect infringements with digital fingerprints. However, the German court decided that in isolation that wouldn’t be enough. That’s why YouTube should filter by keywords as well. Meanwhile, both GEMA and YouTube must announce whether they are going to appeal the court decision or not.

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