GEMA is Blocking the Live Stream of the General Assembly for Pirate Party Norway

GEMA is Blocking the Live Stream of the General Assembly for Pirate Party Norway

This weekend, on the 1-2 of February, the Pirate Party of Norway held their general assembly in Kristiansand, Norway. Being a transparent and modern political party they were providing online voting and a live-stream for people that wished to partake in the meeting via the internet. This stream was blocked from viewers in Germany on claims of music copyright despite being a political debate, which in essence made it political censorship. All pirates in Germany could see was the message “unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights”.

GEMA, the German ‘society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights’ uses mathematical algorithms to block videos containing music they claim copyright to. These algorithms blocked the livestream from the general assembly of a political party in Norway, despite the livestream containing political debate and not music . Youtube themselves have earlier criticized their own filtering process, that they were forced to use by GEMA, and said that they feared that “the implementation of filters would compromise innovation and freedom of speech”.

Norwegian pirates living in Germany had no way of following the political debate because of the unfair blocking of the livestream by GEMA, and The Pirate Party had to resort to using a third party, StreamServices (@stream_services) to provide a re-stream of the General Assembly to circumvent the political censorship.

The pirate parties and internet freedom activists have long claimed that the filtering unfairly blocks material where GEMA has no legitimate copyright claims. This has been showed several times before but blocking people to take part of political speeches, from the general assembly of a political party, has more ramifications than that of what is generally blocked by the system. In effect this shows that monetary concerns are valued higher than political freedoms.

Using algorithms to do the work of lawyers and courts does not provide for the rule of law and a democratic society. It creates a society where special interests, instead of our elected representatives, get to dictate the conditions of human interaction. Additionally these algorithms are not fully in the control of their creators and, as shown through the blocking of the pirates’ live stream, have ‘margins of error’ which are only tolerated because their creators are not held responsible for any collateral damage.

Letting the GEMA algorithms block the livestream in order to “protect the incomes of musicians” and causing political censorship is worthy of a Franz Kafka novel, not a modern society.