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Catfight! Youtube Vs. GEMA

April 7, 2009

I had an interesting conversation with xander and Artax over on the THA Forum the other day about what’s going on with Youtube. As you may have heard, THTV is among the content that is being blocked from being viewed in Germany. Who is responsible, and what does it mean?

First of all, Universal is not trying to cut off German Tokio Hotel fans. That would be monumentally stupid. This action involves Youtube (Google) and GEMA (the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs, or Society For Musical Performing – A Musician’s Guild that represents German artists and negotiates contract agreements for royalties). You may not know this, but in certain cases when you click on a Youtube video containing music, money is paid to the songwriters. Advertising pays for much of it. Obviously, it’s difficult to ensure that they are paid for every click when users can upload whatever they want, which is why fanvideos get flagged and tracked by the labels (if you’re lucky) or deleted altogether (if you’re not).

So, Google and GEMA are in negotiations now. GEMA wants a fair cut of Youtube’s profits for their artists, based on clicks. Youtube, which, according to some reports, is losing money hand over fist, claims that they can’t possibly pay what GEMA is asking for. Reportedly, GEMA is asking for many times more than The Performing Arts Society of the United Kingdom, with which negotiations have also broken down. GEMA, of course, feels that their demands are reasonable.

I have seen GEMA and The Performing Arts Society called greedy, but keep in mind,  Big Entertainment  Corporations are not the ones demanding money for themselves here. These agencies are trying to get the artists paid. I know, money and art is not a romantic combination, but with the way technology is evolving, artists need advocates like these Guilds to make sure they are taken care of. The idea of a contract between Youtube and GEMA is not new – a 17-month contract between them just expired. The real issue is, what is fair? How much is the “free” benefit of Youtube to artists and labels worth? Youtube seems to be trying to prove that it has value, and I would agree. The problem is, these are uncharted waters. There has to be regulation, but regulating Youtube is tricky; over-regulation runs the risk of driving users away (and there go all those clicks for the artists). There’s a solution somewhere… hopefully they find it.

What does all this mean for Tokio Hotel? In the US, we still have access to THTV and Universal content on Youtube.  Germany, the UK,  and other countries are not so lucky at the moment. It is not a permanent thing, hopefully – it’s like a strike. I’m confident that Universal will make sure that fans all over the world can watch the music videos and THTV,  whatever happens with Youtube.

In the end, though, any significant loss of Youtube accessibility would be a significant loss for Tokio Hotel.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. veestone permalink
    April 9, 2009 5:38 pm

    Do I know you?

    Anyway, your words are refreshing. Definitely will continue to check out the blog.

    • hollyq permalink*
      April 10, 2009 12:20 am

      Do I know you? 🙂 Are you Vee of Tokio V3? If so, we don’t really know each other, but I know your vlogs.


      • veestone permalink
        April 16, 2009 6:28 pm

        Nope, not that Vee. *sigh* I get that a lot. lol

      • hollyq permalink*
        April 16, 2009 11:53 pm

        Oh, sorry! I made that connection because you first commented right after I posted the Tokiov3 blog. 🙂

        At least Chicago Vee is cool. There was this troll on the THA blog named Holly who was put into moderation. I don’t think anyone actually thought it was me, but… embarrassing.

        Nice to meet you, veestone!

  2. April 9, 2009 8:29 pm

    I like you tube for enabling me to find out about music I may not have otherwise have heard about. I see it as free exposure for the artist.

    • hollyq permalink*
      April 10, 2009 12:30 am

      I agree, Brittney. The exposure received from fans making what amount to free advertisements (made with love, which is hard to buy) is valuable. I don’t think artists and labels should get nothing for it monetarily, but the value of that kind of advertising should be factored in. I like when the itunes/amazon links are there under the videos. I don’t know how many people use them, but I have.

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