Friday, 20 April 2012

GEMA verses YouTube

Just avery quick posting after noticing this article on GEMA (the German copyright society for Music, and Arts) who claim that YouTube owes them, and if they win probably all the other music publishing societies out there (SABAM, PRS, SACEM etc), a LOT of money! Of course everyone has their own opinions, but it seems clear to me that posting music on YouTube doesn't hurt anyone, as long as you're not making any money from it, in fact it's quite the opposite. 

As a musician (who has some videos of himself - but never posted any - on YouTube) I see no problem as long as the performers are happy with what's posted. One stands to have some excellent publicity from being found there. Of course if they're (the musician/s) not happy there's an easy solution - ask for it to be taken down! Small artists who work in jazz and other alternative music fields use these possibilities, which after all are free of charge, uploading videos of their own concerts as publicity material, passing on links to festivals, clubs, pubs and any other people that may be interested in hiring the band/performer. 

A few other things that should be known about performing rights societies.....

These pirates DO NOT pay out royalties to smaller artists, only to large boycotting record companies and advertising groups who naturally own the rights from television commercials or films (*). In theory all money collected from unspecified rights (i.e. general music licenses in cafés, bars, restaurants etc) should be equally shared between performers who belong to these societies. But do not be fooled, it is not! The thinking behind this lobbying is that probably the only music that's being played in a bar is that of someone famous, and not a 'non commercial' artist. That means (in real terms) that only the top earners get a percentage of the money collected - i.e. Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, U2 etc. Other artists get either nothing, or a 0.002 of a Euro-cent.

What this all means is that I have no sympathy for the likes of GEMA who will be being pushed by much larger and heavyweight companies who feel they should get more money than they're due. I should also add that the smaller artist will again suffer if this ruling goes through.

What happens when I wish to upload my own work, will I have to pay royalties to myself? Performing rights companies wouldn't do this, would they? The answer at the moment is yes ... strangely enough. In Belgium when you make a record you're OBLIGED to pay the SABAM up front royalties - of 1000€ - for making a record. Theoretically you get it back later, but in some cases this doesn't happen - if you have a faulty pressing and have to re-press you obliged to pay a second time!! You are NOT aloud to print a record or CD without a bar-code unless it's under 50 copies. Of course if you have a bar-code ... you have to pay, even if you don't want any money back, and/or are not interested in registering it in a copyright society (who rips you off anyhow). At the moment Belgian musicians are fighting their local SABAM who wish to pay light music and classical music less money and pay more to jingles (commercials). The reason for this is lobbying from the music companies who own the commercials and consider that they should get a larger slice of the pie! 

Meanwhile back at the original thread ....

Anyhow, back to GEMA verses YouTube. I hope that someone gets their brains working in the legal department of the internet and YouTube and throws out this ridiculous ruling. If large famous pop groups don't wish for people to see their videos, hear their music tracks on YouTube, fair enough, take them down. For the rest of us leave us alone, and mind your own business. 

* = Recently a large film company took an English pub to court because the pubs name was The Hobbit - the pub had been named that for many years. However the film company said that the pub was cashing in on the name. Can you believe it?
 **= Some of this information maybe not 100% correct as I just route this off the bat. But as a musician I can certainly vouch for most of it.

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