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German music publishers demand YouTube royalties

The hills are alive, with the sound of lawyers

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The German Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) is demanding royalties from YouTube.

A spokesman for GEMA told Germany's Handelsblatt that the popular video service needs to delete all videos with non-licensed German music, or pay up.

GEMA says it is currently holding talks with YouTube about possible arrangements. GEMA didn't want to wait until the takeover of YouTube by Google was finalised, the spokesman told Handelsblatt.

With 70,000 new videos every day, there is a lot of unlicensed music posted by individual users. Currently, there is no preliminary screening process to prevent copyright clips from being uploaded.

Last week, German soccer club Bayern Munich also threatened YouTube with legal action over pirated material. And last month YouTube deleted nearly 30,000 files after The Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers complained of copyright infringement.

GEMA, however, is the first major music industry association that is trying to settle copyright claims with YouTube.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt denied on Tuesday that his company had set aside $500m to settle copyright claims by media companies. YouTube did, however, agree to deploy an audio-signature technology that can spot a low-quality copy of a licensed clip. Such material could then be removed automatically. ®

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