There is a bright future unfolding in the media business front, it seems. The days of the ‘This Video is Not Available in Germany’ GEMA message on YouTube seem to be over, and NY freelancers can rejoice as a new law guarantees them payment on time.
GEMA vs. Youtube
Ah yes, GEMA. Most likely you won’t be familiar with it because this German collecting society is pretty much unique in the way it works. GEMA stands for Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights) and it acts as a collecting society and performance rights organisation. Its purpose is to making sure each artist, writer or performer gets paid every time a song is played publicly to which they own the music rights.
For the artists, this is a good thing. But then YouTube came along and everyhting changed. The way we consume media has changed radically and so GEMA had to adapt to the new rules of the game. Unfortunately, YouTube has repudiated GEMA’s claims for charging copyright fees whenever an artist from their catalogue was played on YouTube. The question is this: does the German collecting society have the right to charge YouTube for playing protected music within their videos on a global scale? It’s a difficult legal question because most of the time YouTube acts as a platform only, with users themselves uploading the content. The temporary solution was to geo-block all the videos in question from being viewed in Germany. So each and every time I wanted to watch something music related, I got this:
Luckily, the image above may soon be a thing of the past, as YouTube and GEMA have finally settled their dispute! From now on (and retroactive to 2009) YouTube will pay an undisclosed amount for each and every stream that contains GEMA repertoire. But even with this breaktrough, some questions remain: the two companies still have very different opinions of whether the uploader or the streaming platform is responsible of licencing the music in question.
Not all that glitters is gold. Now I’m forced to stumble over the #1 YouTube video of all times a lot more often: Gangnam Style by PSY. In any case, for the first time in seven years I can use YouTube as it was meant to be: a free streaming platform for everyone. Nicely done!
NY Freelancers rejoice
This rather Germany-specific news in media business is followed by another great news: a new law guarantees better payment terms for freelancers. Whenever you are on a freelance job, it’s usually the same kind of scenario: you’re working hard trying to get the job done in the best way possible. Once the client is happy, you invoice them. And then… nothing. For weeks and sometimes even months. A very frustating truth of being a freelancer.
Being a freelancer in NY seems to be even tougher, as the urge to have some sort of legal base when it comes to payment has now spawned a new law. So, if you’re being hired as a freelancer in NYC, you can rest assured you will be getting paid on time. Otherwise, your client might face a $25,000 fine.
As the whole economy shifts more towards freelance gigs and away from long-term employment contracts, this is a very welcome development that can help getting on that freelance train in the first place.
What do you think? Maybe this is a gleam of hope we’re seeing here for the whole freelance community?