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Google Inc. (GOOG), the world’s biggest Internet search engine company, partly lost a German copyright infringement suit over how much it must do to remove illegal music videos from its YouTube website.
A Hamburg court partly ruled in favor of a suit brought by German music royalty collecting society GEMA that argued Google doesn’t do enough to monitor YouTube content. Google must implement features to detect future violations if a rights holder alerts the company, Presiding Judge Heiner Steeneck said in a ruling that gave both sides reason to declare victory.
“But YouTube isn’t the perpetrator here, it’s those people who illegally upload songs,” Steeneck said. “That’s why YouTube doesn’t have to search all videos uploaded in the past. It only has to help detect videos from the moment it is alerted about possible violations.”
The suit was filed in 2010 after talks between GEMA and Google on license fees for songs played on YouTube faltered. GEMA collects royalties for composers and songwriters. An earlier agreement between the two sides expired in 2009. Google has reached licensing agreements with about 40 collecting societies from other nations.
While Google maintained that that it provides enough mechanisms for rights holders to detect violations, GEMA sought a ruling expanding YouTube’s obligations to any illegal upload in the past. The court ruled that YouTube’s must add a word search to help detect videos. The current “ContentID” application, whcih allows searches for audio content, isn’t enough, according to the judges.
“This is a good ruling for us as YouTube must react once it is alerted,” said Kerstin Baecker, GEMA’s lawyer. “So far they have said they don’t have to do anything.”
Google spokesman Kay Oberbeck said the ruling provides legal certainty and is important “for artists, musicians and fans.”
Both sides said they will decide whether to appeal the part of the ruling they lost after studying the written judgment.
Today’s case is LG Hamburg, 310 O 461/10.
To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Hamburg via email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.