Do artists actually support music piracy

Court ruling: Gema can also collect payments for anonymous artists

The collecting society Gema has won a legal dispute over the publication of music titles under a pseudonym. The Frankfurt District Court sentenced the defendant music pirates on Monday to pay 68 euros plus interest because the non-profit association refused to give Gema the real names of an artist duo in order to be able to match possible copyright claims.

Last year the music pirates released a CD with music by artists who do not belong to Gema and duplicated the sound carrier 2,000 times. One of the bands had released his song under the pseudonym texasradiofish.

Gema then asked for the real names of the artists in order to be able to check possible claims. The music pirates refused and referred to a written confirmation from the two US musicians, according to which texasradiofish actually does not belong to Gema.

Authorization for exploitation not verifiable

The district court did not consider this confirmation to be sufficient. The alleged author remains anonymous and makes it impossible for the Gema to check the exploitation authority, it says in the judgment.

The court relies on the so-called "Gema presumption", which has been confirmed several times by the highest court, according to which the collecting society is initially granted a basic right of administration. The burden of proof lies with the music pirates.

They immediately announced their appointment. "We are striving for a decision by the highest court," said the lawyer for the music pirates, Emanuel Schach. The district court had allowed the appeal to the regional court despite the low amount in dispute, as it recognized the fundamental importance of the lawsuit.

Music pirates follow suit

The music pirates meanwhile use the process to further promote their cause. Just in time for the verdict on Monday, they released another CD with music by royalty-free artists. On the sound carrier "Freedom & Free Beer" there is again a song by "texasradiofish", which sparked the argument.

The Musikpiraten are an offshoot of the Pirate Party Germany. They were founded in 2009 to "promote free culture with a focus on music as a means of artistic expression". Specifically, the music pirates support artists who do not want to make use of a collecting society and make their music freely accessible to everyone.