A German court has ruled that YouTube must erase seven contested videos over copyright issues. However, the decision has failed to settle the protracted copyright row raging on the Internet. Hamburg's State Court ruled on Friday that YouTube will have to take seven videos offline, including "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.
The verdict strengthens the position of Germany's royalty collections
body GEMA which has been battling Google-owned YouTube over copyright
issues for years.
The last agreement expired in 2009 and the conflicting parties have
since been at loggerheads over the proper method to collect copyright
fees. However, Friday's verdict is not the landmark ruling which some had
hoped would once and for all settle the contentious issue of copyright
protection in the Internet.
The Hamburg court decided that Internet platforms like YouTube are not
directly liable for the breach of copyrights committed by users
uploading protected material. However, the platform is now obliged to
"deactivate immediately any illegal videos" once alerted by those
holding the copyright.
Notably, the ruling does not oblige YouTube to check all content that
has already been uploaded to its site – a key GEMA demand.
The judges said YouTube was not the main culprit because it does not
upload or steal any content. Rather it facilitated the copyright
breaches by offering and operating the online platform.
In order to prevent further copyright breaches, the judges called on
YouTube to employ specific software capable of detecting songs in
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