YouTube goes Swiss

Coffee was on hand for those attending the launch of Switzerland's new YouTube channel in Zurich on Tuesday Keystone

Google has introduced a new version of its video platform intended specifically for Swiss-based Web users. The site will be financed through advertising services available to YouTube users in Switzerland for the first time.

This content was published on April 9, 2013 - 18:08 and agencies

As the 54th country to get a dedicated YouTube channel, Switzerland doesn’t represent the most lucrative advertising market for Google, but questions about Google’s share of the ad revenue came up nevertheless at an event launching the new service in Zurich on Tuesday. Patrick Warnking, Country Manager for Google in Switzerland, declined to name the exact share of ad revenue Swiss YouTube would receive but indicated it would be “very fair”.

YouTube recently reached one billion registered users worldwide and is the most-used online video service. However, its popularity has also led to struggles with copyright and intellectual property issues and questions over whether artists who choose to share their work on YouTube are getting a fair share of the advertising revenue.

Debating artists’ rights

With a view toward the launch, the Swiss performance rights organisation Suisa has reportedly been in talks with Google over how to ensure its artists are paid fairly. Suisa spokesperson Martin Wütrich recently told the NZZ newspaper that “we are in a constructive dialogue, and I expect that we will reach an agreement in the near future.”

However, in neighbouring Germany, the performance rights group Gema failed to reach an agreement with Google and YouTube over its artists’ payment for their work on the video channel; talks broke down in December after YouTube was unable to accept Gema’s demand of the artist being paid 0.375 cents per content stream, and Gema artists’ content is currently blocked to YouTube users in Germany. Gema is also seeking €1.6 million in damages against YouTube in a lawsuit at the German Patent and Trademark Office.

An extreme example of how artists can profit from YouTube content emerged last year when the South Korean rapper Psy earned about $4 million in advertising money off his viral video, “Gangnam Style,” viewed some 1.2 billion times worldwide.

Google may see new antitrust suit

Also on Tuesday, a group of companies led by Microsoft called on European authorities to open an anti-trust lawsuit against Google for its Android smartphone operating system. The companies calling for the suit say the automatic installation of Google applications like YouTube and Google Maps on Android-operated smartphones violates fair competition laws. The Android system has given Google the largest worldwide market share in software installed on new smartphones.

Google is already under investigation by Brussels for practices related to its dominance of online search and advertising markets.

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