France's SPPF sues YouTube

Independent labels collecting society claims $14 mil damages

French independent labels collecting society SPPF has filed a lawsuit against YouTube for copyright infringement.

In a statement, the producers' body said that more than 100 music videos of its catalog, which had been taken down by YouTube in 2008 following SPPF's request, were again available on the service in some form. SPPF is claiming €10 million ($13.9 million) in damages.

Google-owned YouTube responded by pointing out that SPPF has not signed up to its Content ID technical measures to identify any infringement. In France, YouTube partners with organizations including Europacorp, AFP, and France 24 on Content ID to identify unauthorized use of content and then monetize or block it.

"We can't discuss a pending case but bear in mind that YouTube offers professional content creators and producers powerful and free tools to protect, promote and monetize their content by using Content ID," said a statement. "Many indies as well as major music companies are using these tools to protect their content in France. The protection of copyrights is best achieved by joint efforts between creators and online platforms, not by lengthy and costly lawsuits."

The statement added: "SPPF have not used Content ID to protect their content on the platform so far, although several independent labels do."

Meanwhile, SPPF also unveiled results for 2008, with a 14.9% increase in income to €14.5 million ($20.2 million). The rise was mainly due to various exceptional items and to an increase in music video income, thanks to the growth of digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels.

SPPF said it would keep focusing its efforts on neighboring rights rates. After commercial and state-owned radio channels fees were upped in 2007 and 2008, SPPF is now looking at the rate paid by public places playing recorded music. The rates are set by a dedicated body headed by a government representative.
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