German composer Frank Peterson has filed a lawsuit at the Higher District Court in Hamburg against Google/YouTube, claiming that his music videos and other audiovisual repertoire were used illegally.

Peterson produces British soprano Sarah Brightman and heads his own German band Gregorian.

In the lawsuit, Petersen claims infringement of his copyrights and master rights. He states that more than 125 million streams of his productions - of which he owns the copyrights and master rights as author, publisher and producer - have been viewed, for which he never received payment from Google/YouTube.

Peterson filed the lawsuit before the dispute between the German collecting society GEMA and Google/YouTube about the terms of their license agreement arose this month. Peterson's lawyer, Jens Schippmann, senior partner of the law firm Kamin & Wilke in Hamburg, says the lawsuit has been necessary because Peterson never granted any synchronization rights and adaptation rights to GEMA as part of his membership agreement.

"The German legal situation is different to the Anglo-American copyright law because in Germany the copyright itself will always remain with the author and exploitation rights granted do not exclude the author from any decision regarding synchronization and adaptation because of the author's moral right," says Schippmann. "My client did not assign any synchronization or adaptation rights to Google/YouTube and is therefore entitled to demand [they] cease and desist such usage [and] negotiate about demanding appropriate remuneration."

Lutz Melzer, junior partner at Kamin & Wilke, added: "The lawsuit includes our demand for injunction, for information and accounting about the figures of the usage and the turnover, especially from advertising. In addition we demand for a court decision that any damages incurred by such exploitation have to be reimbursed by Google/YouTube. So far we cannot exactly compute the amount of such damages without additional information from YouTube but it seems that the damages will exceed a few million [U.S.] dollars solely in the Peterson case."

Google spokesman Henning Dorstewitz in Hamburg declined to comment on ongoing
proceedings.

Schippmann says he is also working with other authors, producers and publishers in Germany who are concerned about their work being exploited on YouTube, especially in relation to user-generated content.

Rudy Holzhauer, owner and managing director of the Hamburg-based publishing company Progressive Musikverlag, also voiced his concerns.

"It is simply not acceptable that the user alone decides and Google/YouTube is tolerating [the way] everybody can use any kind of music without asking," he tells Billboard.biz. "Some producers requested to make cover versions of our songs, but refrained to do so after realizing how many videos of the songs already existed for free on YouTube. We stopped those versions, but you just cannot stop hundreds of YouTube [links]."

Holzhauer describes those posting user-generated content featuring his catalog as "parasites that give away songs for free in which they don't have any rights" and said Google/YouTube was complicit "because nobody asks whether you are entitled to upload certain content."

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