Wednesday, March 20, 2013

YouTube in Blurmany

Sometimes, it is hard to overlook how exceptional Germany is, even in negative instances. A few years ago, when Google began rolling out its Street View for more locations in Germany, there was unusual resistance among the general public, with quite a number of people participating in a campaign to have their own homes blurred – leading to the new word "Blurmany."

The most ludicrous thing about the campaign was that Deutsche Telekom already offered a similar Street View service that no one had objected to – mainly because almost no one knew existed. The result was blurred images on Google and perfectly normal pictures for the competition.

Recently, there was news confirming what everyone in Germany already knows: popular videos in Germany are generally blocked on YouTube because GEMA,, which collects copyright fees, cannot reach an agreement with YouTube on how much should be paid per video view. Similar agreements have been reached around the world, so Germans are now experts at tunneling into YouTube from servers abroad by means of browser plug-ins. We then get to watch, for instance, advertising in Dutch before we see our video of Gangnam Style, which was blocked the first time I tried to view it.

The study found that 61.5 percent of the 1,000 most popular videos worldwide cannot be viewed legally in Germany on YouTube. Germany comes in second worldwide in the list of blocked videos on YouTube behind the newly founded South Sudan, but ahead of Vatican City, Myanmar, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, and Afghanistan, for instance.

Perhaps Blurmany and the YouTube dispute are not related. A small number of people objected to Google Street View in Germany, and the dispute about YouTube videos is not at all between the general public and Google. Nonetheless, Germany seems to be having trouble with the Internet on different levels.

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