Search This Blog

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gegen die GEMA Tarife


Here in Germany, we have a government-authorized musical performance "rights" agency known as GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte). For those of you in the USA & elsewhere that are unfamiliar with GEMA, imagine an organization such as ASCAP or BMI being run by a certain little Austrian fellow born in the late 1800s that didn't quite make it as an artist himself, so he felt it fitting to make the rest of the world suffer for it. That would be GEMA.

GEMA "represents" roughly only 64,000 artists, despite their bloated claims, but like to believe that they "represent" and "administrate" all recording artists in Germany until they are proven otherwise. I quote; "the burden of proof is on the accused infringer that the work is not managed by GEMA."

Now, with the information that I have given you above, just a few moments ago, GEMA made an attempt to block most of Feeding Fingers' content from YouTube and a few other similar, privately-owned media outlets, claiming that the music that I have written, recorded and released through my own, registered multi-media company is "likely to be the property of GEMA" - an autocratic organization that I have nothing to do with and never will.

Thankfully, I was able to lift the block and keep the content freely available to everyone. Though, unfortunately, my case is slowly becoming the exception here.

We have nightclubs and music venues of various types that are shutting down here left and right because of their inability to pay GEMA fees. We have DJs and club owners that simply can't afford to play music in their venues anymore. The bulk of these fees are going to GEMA, supposedly to be dispersed to the artist, but most of these artists are not GEMA members. For example, if a DJ in club XYZ in Hamburg decides to play, "Fireflies Make Us Sick", he or she has to catalog that play on paper and submit a payment along with the playlist for that night to GEMA, even though Feeding Fingers is not a GEMA member. The DJ has to pay a fee to GEMA because the song is "likely" controlled by GEMA, even though, in reality, it is not. The money then disappears into a bureaucratic labyrinth.

To give an example of how ridiculous this is becoming here, most of the amateur videos that were uploaded to YouTube featuring footage of the recent meteorite crash in Russia were blocked by GEMA because the videos had music in the background from car stereos and typical, everyday street noise.

The idea that there still exists, in this, the 21st century, a state-funded organization for "music & the arts" whose basic position is that they own everything by default until someone proves it to them otherwise is both appalling and alarming, to me. This whole situation is very nearly literally like someone stealing your record collection from you and being protected by the police with it under their arms until you can provide proof that it is, in fact, yours and not theirs.

Feeding Fingers is not a member of GEMA, nor will it ever be and I encourage any of you out there that have been suckered into becoming a member to shred your contracts, withdraw your catalog immediately and stop letting yourself get bullied into paying their fees. 
 - Justin