Germans can finally view Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ after YouTube strikes deal with copyright collector

Germans can finally view Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ after YouTube strikes deal with copyright collector
Following years of legal squabbling, German music copyright collector GEMA has struck a deal with YouTube that enables artists to be paid for every view and removes the obnoxious restrictions for Germany that banned even the most popular YouTube music videos.

German viewers were denied access to many popular YouTube videos after companies failed to agree on a per-stream fee GEMA demanded from YouTube after a previous licensing agreement expired in 2009.

Following the collapse of the negotiations, GEMA restricted access to the work of some 70,000 German artists, songwriters and composers who are GEMA members, as well as to the video content by foreign musicians it represents in Germany. In the latter category fell such big names as Coldplay, U2, Lady Gaga, Pink Floyd, Psy, Abba and many others.

According to Portals Statista estimates dating back to 2013, a staggering 60 percent of the top 1,000 most popular YouTube videos were blocked by GEMA as result of the legal battle – to the mounting frustration of German viewers.

The seven-year dispute revolved around the notion of licensing rights. GEMA argued that YouTube makes huge profits from streaming the videos and should thereby pay copyright fees to GEMA. In turn, the video-streaming service, which is owned by Google, insisted that it does not own the video and that’s why should not be held accountable for their use, arguing that the uploaders themselves, not YouTube, should pay a fee to GEMA.

While the details of the new deal struck Tuesday have not yet been released, it is understood that YouTube is likely to make a one-time payment to GEMA covering the years from 2009 to the present day, which the copyright company will then divide among the artists it represents, Der Spiegel reported. 

From November 1, YouTube will be reportedly sharing profits with GEMA it receives from advertising.

"The proceeds from the use of music will be then distributed to the members according to the distribution plan of GEMA," the company told Der Spiegel. The amount of payment has not been disclosed.   

In its official blog, YouTube hailed the deal, saying that the milestone agreement means “a big day for music in Germany.” 

“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,” it said in a statement, adding that the blocked-screen message saying a video is not available to German viewers due to copyright issues will no longer be shown to them.

As the news reached the broader public, German music fans rejoiced with chains of jubilant comments in German appearing under the most popular YouTube videos.

©Tagesschau Endlich keine YouTube Sperren mehr in Deutschland!!! Es geschehen noch Wunder!

Фото опубликовано Thomas (@tm1973de)

For example, the record-breaking “Gangnam Style” by Korean star Psy, has been flooded with comments by German fans, with some of them like the one below scoring over thousand likes. 

 “Finally I can see this from Germany,” wrote Pianosphere.

 Another viewer noted that Germans can not only watch, but also actually listen to the song, as GEMA had blocked not only the videos, but also audio material posted on YouTube if it owned copyright.

“Germany also finally can listen to it,” wrote Justin with a smiley face.

Twitter has also reacted with a storm of applause to the long-awaited decision, with many of the users thanking both GEMA and YouTube for signing the deal.

“I cannot believe this is actually happening and I'll no longer have to see this! YouTube is finally a GEMA free!!” wrote another user.

While the good news has not yet sunk with some overly excited viewers, a bit of nostalgia can be already felt in the air. 

“Only 90s kids will remember #GEMA”, misha wrote. 

“Non-Germans will never know the pleasure. I'm so pleased thanks @YouTube #Gema,” Perriespets wrote. 

Some of the users lamented that the move had been long overdue. 

Some music fans who rushed to their YouTube pages of their favorite artists in hope to finally see the clips, have been having difficulties to watch the videos even after the announcement.

“We still have #GEMA BLOCK”, wrote donotsofficial from the German city of Ibbenbueren, asking other YouTubers to check on the video. 

While the majority have been celebrating, the others noted that one deal will not solve the problem with copyright issues in Germany altogether.

“#YouTube has therefore agreed with the #GEMA. Great. But songs from Sony (SME) are still blocked? #Fail.”