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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 21st year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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More on copyright abuse

22 February 2013

I wrote about copyright abuse in a column just days ago but I wasn't talking about the type of abuse that concerns the RIAA/MPAA and, closer to home, RIANZ.

No, I was talking about the abuse of copyright that keeps these people hunting down their own customers and dragging them through the courts.

It was no surprise therefore, to read this story on Arstechnica where it is reported that the German industry rights group GEMA has forced YouTube to block a whole bunch of videos on copyright grounds.

What's wrong with those videos?

Are they bootlegged or illegally uploaded music videos or movies?

No they're not -- they're videos of the massive meteorite that scorched across the skies of Russia last weekend.

So how does that work?

How can anyone own copyright on a meteorite?

Well (of course), nobody does own copyright on the meteorite -- but apparently many of the vids were taken by the ubiquitous dashboard cameras that are fitted to so many Russian cars and, as a result, there's a background music track from the audio systems also fitted to those vehicles.

GEMA has bitched and moaned to YouTube that, since they are authorised to collect royalty payments for *any* and *all* music broadcast or streamed to German residents, the website must pay them half a cent each time those videos are viewed from a German IP number.

What the hell are they smoking over at GEMA?

I long ago gave up using any form of music (even royalty free stuff) in my YouTube vids because of complaints from my German subscribers. They pointed out that the vids with any kind of music were blocked in that country -- because GEMA couldn't collect the necessary royalties.

Yes, that's right -- GEMA is demanding royalties on royalty-free music. How does that work?

Apparently, even if you write and perform your own music and put it on YouTube, GEMA will demand that YouTube pay them a royalty whenever a German resident watches that video.

Will *you*, the owner of the copyright, ever see a cent of that money?

Of course not.

So isn't that fraud and theft on the part of GEMA?

Of course it is.

That's why I claim that we need to stamp out copyright abuse.

Like it or not, the biggest abusers are the various rights organisations which purport to be working on the side of good and right but who are actually defrauding the very artists they claim to represent.

Need more evidence?

The latest "Skynet" prosecution resulted in the offender being made to pay over $700 for downloading some Elton John and Coldplay tracks. Included in that $700 or so was a $7 fee equivalent to the value of the tracks downloaded. Will Elton John or Coldplay ever see a cent of that money?

Cue Tui's ad.

Again... more copyright abuse, fraud and theft.

As I've said before, it's time to review the true purpose of copyright law and restore its actual basic raison d'etre.

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