The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Germany did not issue a judgement regarding the liability of the online platform YouTube for copyright infringements on Thursday.
The case will initially be passed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) instead.
Since copyright law in the European Union (EU) is standardized, the BGH is now seeking clarification from the ECJ on various questions regarding the European law. After receiving the answers from Brussels, the German judges of the BGH in Karlsruhe want to determine whether Google subsidiary YouTube will have to pay compensations if third-parties upload copyrighted works on their platform without the artists' permission.
The BGH sought to clarify the fundamental question if YouTube is at least partly responsible for legal violations by its users and which obligations and claims would result from copyright violations. According to German media reports, it will take one to two years for the dispute to return to the national courts in Germany.
"The decision reflects the legal complexity of the problem which we have been calling to be solved for a long time," Florian Druecke, chairman of the board of the federal association of the music industry (BVMI), told the press on Thursday.
German music producer Frank Peterson is the plaintiff in this case. Various songs and concert recordings by Sarah Brightman, the singer he represents, were published on YouTube without permission back in 2010.
Since then the case has gone through several judicial authorities. The regional court in the German city of Hamburg ruled in favor of Peterson in 2010 in three individual cases, but cleared YouTube of all other charges. In 2015, the higher regional court of Hamburg ruled that although YouTube was not liable for copyright infringements, it was co-responsible for them as a so called "disrupter".
On Wednesday, YouTube meanwhile published the first self-produced series made in Germany on the same day as the EU Parliament had approved a draft for a new copyright law that would oblige platforms such as YouTube to monitor the content of their users for copyright infringements.
The new series are part of YouTube's new subscription program which was launched three months ago in Germany. Part of this program is also the music streaming service "YouTube Music".