YouTube could face a massive bill for royalties after a German court ruled that the video sharing website must do more to stop users uploading material they do not own the rights to.
A Hamburg court found Friday that the site is responsible for the content that individuals post, and said the site must install filters to automatically detect when users post music clips whose rights are held by Germany royalty collection group, GEMA, the BBC reports.
It is estimated that about 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the ruling – if enforced – could slow that process down significantly, as every music clip would need to be cleared for copyright before being posted, according to the Daily Telegraph.
However, Judge Heiner Steeneckin rejected a request by GEMA that YouTube’s owner Google trawl through its entire online music collection and identify and remove all copyrighted material, according to the New York Times.
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GEMA argued that YouTube had not done enough to halt the posting of copyrighted clips, and sued the site over separate 12 music videos to which it holds the rights. The industry group represents some 60,000 German musicians and artists, the Associated Press reports.
The court ordered that seven of the twelve videos be taken down from the site. Under German law, YouTube could face fines of up to 250,000 euros if any of them are re-uploaded onto the website.
In its defence, YouTube had argued that the site is simply a platform for users to upload material, and said that while it took no responsibility for what users posted, it did respond when informed of copyright violations.
It was not immediately clear if Google planned to appeal the ruling, although the California-based company was expected to do so.
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Peter Hempel, a spokesman for GEMA, said: “This is a victory along the way to what will be a very important case… [which], when it is eventually decided, will set a precedent for the legal responsibilities of online platform operators such as Google in Germany.”
The case kicked off in 2010 after a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA expired the previous year, according to RTE news. A stalemate in negotiations between the two sides saw videos from German recording firms briefly blocked on YouTube in 2009.
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