The Munich Higher Regional Court dismissed an action for damages brought by GEMA against Youtube. According to the court, Youtube is not liable for the copyright infringements of its users(Ref.: 29 U 2798/15).
For years, there has been disagreement between the collecting society GEMA and the Internet platform Youtube about liability and the question of whether, or in what amount, it must pay remuneration for the use of musical works. GEMA is of the opinion that Youtube must provide it with information about the music available there that is represented by GEMA and that it owes corresponding royalties to the authors and music publishers. Youtube, on the other hand, believes that it is not responsible for the videos uploaded by its users and therefore does not commit copyright infringement.
The GEMA/Youtube decision of the OLG Munich
The Munich Higher Regional Court now had to decide whether Youtube is to be classified as a music service and is therefore generally responsible for the content posted, or whether it merely provides a platform on which others can distribute content independently. GEMA considers YouTube to be a music service that manages the videos and consequently has to obtain licenses to make the music available. The Munich Higher Regional Court, however, sees things differently and classifies Youtube merely as a technical service provider pursuant to Section 10 TMG.
The decisive factor for the court is that the uploading of the videos is an automatic process that takes effect without any independent action on the part of YouTube. In this respect, Youtube is neither a perpetrator nor a participant in any copyright infringement by the uploaders. With this decision of January 28, 2016, the Higher Regional Court follows the opinion of the Munich Regional Court from the summer of 2015(Ref.: 33 0 9639/14). The Regional Court had also ruled that Youtube did not adopt the uploaded videos as its own and that there was also no act of aiding and abetting. A claim for damages pursuant to Section 97 (2) UrhG was therefore not given.
Outlook in the matter of GEMA
However, an early end to the legal dispute is not to be expected following the ruling. GEMA has already announced that it will take a close look at the reasons for the ruling and will probably appeal. Then, if necessary, the BGH would deal with the matter next. Youtube, on the other hand, has announced that it is interested in an out-of-court settlement with GEMA.
If you have any questions or need help with a dispute regarding GEMA fees, please feel free to contact us by phone at 0221–4201074, by e‑mail at email@example.com or make an appointment with our copyright and media law firm in Cologne.