60% of top 1000 YouTube videos are blocked in Germany due to aggressive copyright laws, according to study


A lot of countries get criticized for censoring the web, such as countries in Asia and the Middle East. And rightly so — censorship is not the answer for offensive or disliked content, education is. (I’m not even going to comment on using censors for political purposes.) However, not very much attention is given to what I like to call censor by copyright that takes place in many “modern”, “developed” nations. Like Germany.

Here in the United States we have the idea of fair use: the ability to use copyrighted content without compensating the owner to a limited extent. Germany has no such law. And because Germany has no such law, Google is forced to block YouTube videos because they “may” infringe on the rights of GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, or Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights).

According to data compiled by OpenDataCity, 53.1% of the top 1000 videos on YouTube are blocked in Germany because they “might” infringe on intellectual property owned by GEMA and 8.4% are blocked because they do infringe on the rights of GEMA for a whopping 61.5%. In other words, 615 of the top 1000 YouTube videos are blocked in Germany. Insane.

It isn’t entirely clear if this same block percentage holds true for all of YouTube or just the top content but this issue came to light again last week when videos of meteorite hitting Russia were blocked in Germany, because in the videos songs played in the background on the radio.

For its part, GEMA says it is willing to license content for use on YouTube. However, it wants to be paid a royalty of €0.00375 ($0.005) per video. Google obviously isn’t willing to pay, hence excessive blockage of videos on YouTube.

[via OpenDataCity, ArsTechnica]

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  • Ashraf

    [@Terry Nachtmerrie] Are you by chance a politician? Because you have completely ignored the topic at hand, instead deciding to focus on a loosely related tangent.

    Not once in the article did I say US is better or has more freedom. The comment about fair use in the United States was simply some background to help readers understand why the same videos are not blocked in the US and are in Germany.

    The issue at hand isn’t which country has more freedom. It is about excessive copyright laws in Germany.

  • James

    @Terry – Yes, this is appalling. However, if you read the individual report, you will find that to a certain extent, the United States is penalized in the subjective assessment of journalist reviewers because of their high expectations that have not panned out in all instances, and a lot of the trouble of course centers around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and detainees in Guantanamo. We probably have one of the most extensive Freedom of Information Acts on the planet, but the Bush Administration withheld a lot of information and the Obama administration was not as forthcoming as people expected. Journalists were expelled from Guantanamo, but in retaliation for a direct violation of rules they had agreed upon. One of the “media deaths” that go into a ranking has NOTHING TO DO WITH the dead reporters reportings. Another problem, which I had not known before, is that despite 40 (of our 50) states having laws that protect the anonymity of sources, we do not yet have a Federal law, which is shocking considering that to get a Constittional Amendment passed, you only need 34 states to approve, so there must be some (likely Republican) Senator who has been blocking a bill from even making it out of committee.

    But the main thing to remember is that in general, our society is so free that you can read almost any total crap of an opinion or theory that is out there on the internet. I think it’s pretty safe to say that our media is pretty free when such a large percentage end up believing that he President is not even American (and, though he was criticized for which Christian church he used to attend, is also believed by many to be a Muslim) — all because they read some “fact” about it on the internet.

    I wonder also if some media reviewers who contribute to these reports penalize the U.S. because there is such a high corporate ownership of media markets, so there is a high premium placed on producing “fluff” stories focused on a positive, happy story like a rescued cat, for instance, than on far more important, but disturbing or sad stories like incidents in Israel and Palestine. That is certainly unfortunate, but it isn’t censorship.

  • Terry Nachtmerrie

    Don’t take this personal, but ‘there’ in the US you have less freedom as in Germany. Sure they block a bunch of videos on youtube, but is that worse as blocking the truth? According to this list: http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html the US is ranked 32nd. Which, for a country that claims to be best in everything, is just sad.