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Hamburg's state court sided with Germany's GEMA, which had sued Google Inc.'s YouTube unit over 12 temporarily uploaded music videos for which no licensing fees were paid. The organization represents about 60,000 German writers and musicians.
The online video platform has maintained that it bears no legal responsibility for the uploaded content — saying it checks and sometimes blocks content when users alert the firm about alleged violations of laws.
YouTube currently offers copyright holders software that allows them to identify recordings for which they hold copyright, enabling them to flag the content as infringing their rights.
The Hamburg court ruled that once an alleged violation is flagged YouTube must now apply the software to the recording to prevent further copyright infringements.
The court also told YouTube to install a new program that filters uploaded videos for possible copyright infringements according to key words — such as musicians' names and song titles — to catch versions of a song that only sound somewhat different, such as live recordings.
"The platform operator only has the obligation to block the video ... and take appropriate measures to hinder further rights violations after being notified about the copyright violation," the court said. "There is no obligation to control all videos already uploaded to the platform," it added.
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