Technology

YouTube's seven-year stand-off ends

YouTube Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption YouTube has been unable to stream many of its videos in Germany until now

YouTube has resolved a long-running dispute that prevented many of its clips being accessible in Germany.

The Google-owned video service had been at odds with Gema - a German rights body representing musicians, composers and publishers - since 2009.

The disagreement had affected clips in which the artists appeared as well as those that used their songs in the background.

Payments will now be made, but neither side has disclosed the terms.

Google's Content ID system means that clips flagged as containing Gema-protected tracks can now have adverts automatically added to them to recompense the songs' creators.

And red banners that had prevented thousands of YouTube's clips from playing in Germany have now been removed as a consequence.

"This is a win for music artists around the world, enabling them to reach new and existing fans in Germany... and for YouTube users in Germany, who will no longer see a blocking message on music content," blogged YouTube's head of international music partnerships, Christophe Muller.

Gema said there remained disagreement about whether YouTube or the person uploading a clip was ultimately responsible for licensing the music it contained but the new agreement still marked a "milestone"

"We remained true to our position that authors should also get a fair remuneration in the digital age, despite the resistance we met," said its chief executive, Harald Heker.

One industry watcher said it was a "significant" that the matter had been resolved.

"Gema had been a long-term holdout on and critic of YouTube, hitting out at the video site even when many record companies were supportive of it," said Chris Cooke, director of Unlimited Media.

"It has meant YouTube is not the music hub in Germany that it is elsewhere, which has hindered newer artists looking to use it as a marketing channel.

"Though it has to be said in the last couple of years most labels have also become critical of YouTube, the way it operates and the royalties it pays compared to, say, Spotify or Apple Music, even though they continue to work with the service.

"It will be interesting to know quite what deal Gema has secured and how its songwriter members feel about it."

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