German criminal investigation against YouTube
In Germany YouTube executives are facing a criminal investigation. The allegations are about copyright infringement. Hamburg's prosecutor started the case against YouTube, and Google, after allegations were made by German music rights holders.
25 German German musicians, producers and music publishers, led by Hamburg-based lawyer Jens Schippmann, sued Google earlier this year, claiming that videos had been watched, but no compensation for it had been paid. They then wanted Google to take down 8.000 videos, which Google did not respond to.
The prosecutor has asked for help from the US in getting the log files over identifying who uploaded as well as who viewed 500 specific videos.
Google itself sats its working with right holders all over the world to make sure all infringements are taking care of. They do that with the Content ID system, with which YouTube can identify songs used in videos based on audio fingerprinting technologies. Right holders then can choose wether or not a video has to be taken down.
Google however doesn't seem to have all infringements rights covered in Germany. Licensing talks between the German music rights group GEMA and YouTube broke down this spring. After that YouTube didn't show videos with GEMA-licensed songs in it in Germany.
The group who now tries to get Google in court is not the same as the GEMA though. Though they have signed over some rights they still have many rights they own themselves. To get the money they want from YouTube they now directly aim for the executives.
It's not the first time YouTube is facing these kind of troubles. Only last month in the Netherlands rights group Buma Stemra planned actions against illegal music in videos, though they aimed for the bloggers to get the money. In Italy Google executives are facing a whole other kind of criminal charges when they have to answer to the court in a case in which they are being charged with with defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data.