In response to a complaint originally filed in October 2009, a state court in Hamburg, Germany recently ordered YouTube to pay damages to the owners of three Sarah Brightman videos that were uploaded to YouTube in violation of German copyright law, and enjoined YouTube from further distributing the copyrighted content. According to a statement by the Hamburg Regional Court, a company may be liable for hosting copyrighted videos without permission of the copyright owner. The court noted that YouTube was acting as a content provider — which requires the company to monitor the content hosted on its site — and merely requiring users to agree to a broad, standard statement that they had obtained all rights necessary to post the content was insufficient to relieve YouTube of its legal obligations. Further, the court stated that YouTube should request supporting evidence from each user that the user had obtained the necessary rights to post materials to the site, particularly given that users can use the service on an anonymous basis. According to ReadWriteWeb, a spokesperson for the court noted that “YouTube was treating content uploaded by its users as its own. That leads to a more strenuous duty to check out the content. The court came to the conclusion YouTube did not fulfill this [duty].” Google, YouTube’s parent company, has announced that it will appeal the decision. For more information (in German), please visit this link http://justiz.hamburg.de/nofl/1403652/container-presseerklaerungen.html.  

In other copyright-related developments affecting YouTube’s European business, YouTube, on September 30, 2010, entered into a deal with SACEM, a French society for songwriters and music publishers. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, YouTube will make payments to SACEM, which will then distribute the money to its members based on the number of times their songs have been viewed on YouTube. This agreement is similar to ones YouTube has entered into with trade organizations elsewhere in Europe, including the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.