A group of German independent labels, publishers and artists has filed complaints against YouTube and its parent company Google alleging persistent commercial breach of copyright.

The announcement was made today (Oct. 26) by attorney Jens Schippmann of the Hamburg law firm Kamin & Wilke, who filed the claims with the public prosecutor's office in Hamburg. He has been mandated to do so by some 25 German and Germany-linked artists, authors and producers.

Those filing the complaints include: U.K. soprano Sarah Brightman and her German producer Frank Peterson; German producers Jon Caffery (Die Toten Hosen) and Toni Cottura (Backstreet Boys, Twenty Four Seven, Scatman); independent publishers Gerig Musikverlage, Bishop Songs and Musikverlag Progressive; plus independent labels Highball Music and Coconut Music.

In a statement, Schippmann said that, since the German YouTube platform was launched at the end of 2007, there has been "clear evidence" that YouTube and Google "have been distributing so-called user-generated content without any permission of the copyright holders and the master owners. In addition, they did not pay any royalties since April 1, 2009."

A Hamburg-based Google spokesman calls those claims "unfounded," adding: "YouTube works closely with many thousands of copyright holders worldwide to make sure that they can manage their rights on our video platform. Our state-of-the-art Content ID tools go beyond what the law recommends by empowering rights holders to block, authorize or monetize their videos on YouTube in a way that is simple and straightforward."

Schippmann claimed that Brightman and Peterson's representatives had "repeatedly asked YouTube to delete approximately 8,000 illegal videos of Sarah Brightman and to prevent any further uploads featuring this artist. We did not receive any reply."

Peterson added in a statement: "It would take almost 200 working days a year" to organize the deletion of the videos featuring Brightman's material. According to Peterson, "This is a grotesque perversion, which is being scrupulously propagated by YouTube. The upshot would be that we will not have any time left to produce new songs."

The German claimants now want the public prosecutor in Hamburg, via the German Federal Ministry of Justice, to lodge a request for judicial assistance in the United States that will force YouTube/Google to release detailed server logs which will identify the German uploaders and downloaders of the copyrighted material. The prosecutor’s office has yet to comment upon the case.