I struggled with myself to write about this for a while. But now I can´t hold back any longer.
The society for musical performance and mechanical reproduction rights (GEMA) is a collecting society which represents the rights of the copyright of those composers, musical, and publishers of musical works in Germany. It is similar to the Harry Fox Agency. Until here there is still no problem.
So why I am writing this article? Well, as I am a Windows Phone User, I normally would love the Zune Pass. The Zune Pass was announced back in 2010 also for Germany.
But it turned out that it will not be released due to the GEMA. So what does the GEMA?
Due to the Fact that the Zune Pass has nearly unlimited streaming, the want to get paid for every streamed song. Microsoft and others are offering a fixed sum per user to the GEMA. The GEMA does not accept. As a result we still do not have Zune Pass here in Germany. And honestly, I do not think we will get it at one day.
So we have to be glad the Zune Marketplace, were we can buy songs, albums and videos.
Another example are videos on YouTube with content from Sony Music. YouTube and the GEMA currently do not have an agreement for displaying videos with Sony Music content. The GEMA wants to be paid per click/per view. Before the got an agreement with a flat amount (until 2009). Now on every video with Sony Music content we get the error: “Sorry, this video has content which is not available in your country”.
Update: Also Apple and Google customers are facing those problems. Apples iTunes Match as well as Google Music will be available, but not or only restricted in Germany.
The GEMA works with the principle of turnaround the burden of proof. If you are a content provider (like Microsoft´s Zune), you have to show the GEMA that your content is not reliable to them. Else you have to pay. Sadly this practice has been confirmed by justice.
I agree that the GEMA is in general a society to help the artists. But they do not work together with the content provider.
Other European countries like Italy, the UK and France also have their agencies similar to the GEMA. They are working together with the content provider.
As often, in the end we customers are punished here in Germany.