YouTube’s long-running licensing dispute with German collecting society GEMA has seen many music videos blocked in that country, and growing frustration from labels. Some good news for the latter, today: not a YouTube licensing deal in Germany, but instead the news that Vevo has inked an agreement with GEMA and will be launching there soon.
“This is a very different launch from the ones we’ve done before,” Vevo’s Nic Jones tells the Financial Times, referring mainly to the fact that Vevo will be entering Germany alone rather than with YouTube as a partner. That said, as the owner of a reportedly-7% stake in Vevo, YouTube is still in the background of the deal, even if it’s not (for now) a distribution partner in Germany.
GEMA and YouTube had been negotiating last year to resolve their dispute, but the talks broke down in January with GEMA filing for damages for more than 1,000 songs through the German Patent and Trademark Office, then followed with a cease-and-desist order demanding YouTube stop telling German users trying to visit blocked videos that GEMA was the cause.
While Vevo’s deal could provide a template for music-video licensing terms that are acceptable to GEMA, the background of litigation is still likely to be a barrier for any YouTube deal.
For Vevo, the upcoming German launch is the latest sign of the company’s ambitious expansion plans: expansion internationally, and also onto new platforms, most recently with the Vevo Apple TV channel. It’s also another boost for the German music industry, following the recent news that recorded music revenues there were up 1.5% in the first half of 2013 – the first such rise in more than a decade.
Long seen as a problematic digital music market due to GEMA’s hardline licensing approach, as more deals have been done, so optimism about the market’s growth has grown.