The German GEMA: Avenger of the Righteous or Outdated Monopoly?

Protesters outside GEMA’s office in Frankfurt. Photo: Juska Wendland on flickr. It was 23.55, on Saturday, June 30, when DJs in clubs throughout Germany turned off their music for five minutes. This gesture was supposed to symbolize the German saying “fünf vor zwölf“, which literally means “five minutes to twelve”, but is understood as “it is almost too late“. In this case, it is almost too late to start a thorough debate about the actions of the German performance right’s organization, GEMA. Since the 1950s, GEMA has been collecting money from people who use music for public events, and passing this money on to the composers, issuers and songwriters of the music.

By Anna Scholz