Big First Step? Germany Tells YouTube to Start Installing Filters...
If there's one thing that YouTube absolutely loathes, it would be filters. Which is funny, because that's exactly what major media companies want. And with estimates pegging music videos at nearly 40 percent of total YouTube traffic, that group definitely includes labels and publishers.
Have fun battling the DMCA in the US, but in Germany, the story is now completely different. Just today, Hamburg court judge Heiner Steeneck ruled that YouTube must proactively install filters to prevent unauthorized uploads of certain music videos, instead of relying on post-upload takedowns. The decision represents a massive victory for GEMA, a royalty collections society with a tough and difficult reputation when it comes to rights licensing.
Unsurprisingly, GEMA was the group that brutishly forced this through the German court system, though this isn't quite the bloody scalp raised in the air - yet. Google-owned YouTube is planning an appeal (of course), and the company has not been pegged with any copyright violations. "Today's ruling confirms that YouTube is a hosting platform and cannot be obliged to control all videos uploaded to the site," Google lawyers asserted. "The ruling is a partial success for the music industry in general, for our users as well as artists, composers, YouTube and other web platforms in Germany."
Actually, this is more like a gigantic victory for rights owners, and goes far beyond GEMA. Part of the reason is that the world gets to see what a fully-implemented filtering system would look like on a platform like YouTube. One argument is that filters can never be effective, simply because of the sheer volume and variants of the content involved. Yet that pro-technology, pro-internet argument is full of holes, and may be ignoring the rather effective controls YouTube has against pornography - including various forms illegal pornography.