Written by Ernesto on January 10, 2011
The major record labels are known for their harsh stance on copyright infringements, which in an ironic turn of events is now costing them millions of dollars. Revealing a double standard when it comes to ‘piracy’, Warner Music, Sony BMG Music, EMI Music and Universal Music now have to pay Canadian artists $45 Million [proposed] for the illegal use of thousands of tracks on compilation CDs.What Ernesto misses is that the settlement "also establishes a new mechanism to help ensure that artists are paid more promptly." as per Michael Geist.
It is no secret that the major record labels have a double standard when it comes to copyright. On the one hand they try to put operators of BitTorrent sites in jail and ruin the lives of single mothers and students by demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and on the other they sell CDs containing music for which they haven’t always cleared the rights. This happens worldwide and more frequently than one would think.
Over the years the labels have made a habit of using songs from a wide variety of artists for compilation CDs without securing the rights. They simply use the recording and make note of it on “pending list” so they can deal with it later. This has been going on since the 1980s and since then the list of unpaid tracks (or copyright infringements) has grown to 300,000 in Canada alone.
This questionable practice has been the subject of an interesting Canadian class action lawsuit which was started in 2008. A group of artists and composers who grew tired of waiting endlessly for their money filed a lawsuit against four major labels connected to the CRIA, the local equivalent of the RIAA.
Warner Music, Sony BMG Music, EMI Music and Universal Music were sued for the illegal use of thousands of tracks and risked paying damages of up to $6 billion. Today the news broke that the two parties have agreed upon a settlement, where the record labels are required to pay $45 million to settle the copyright infringement claims.
During the case the labels were painfully confronted with their own double standard when it comes to copyright infringement. “The conduct of the defendant record companies is aggravated by their strict and unremitting approach to the enforcement of their copyright interests against consumers,” the artists argued in their initial claim for damages.
Of course, the labels are not so quick to admit their wrongdoing and in their press release the settlement is described as a compromise. “The settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the record labels,” it reads.
David Basskin, President and CEO of one of the major Canadian licensing collectives, was nonetheless happy with the outcome. “This agreement with the four major labels resolves all outstanding pending list claims. EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner are ensuring that the net result is more money for songwriters and music publishers. It’s a win for everyone,” he said.
Comments at Torrentfreak
“Pending Lists” Unpaid Mechanical and Video Royalties Class Action Settlement
A proposed settlement of approximately CDN $47.5 million dollars was reached with four major record labels, Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc., now Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., (“Sony”), EMI Music Canada Inc. (“EMI”), Universal Music Canada Inc. (“Universal”) and Warner Music Canada Co. (“Warner”). A Settlement Agreement was also reached with the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd. (“CMRRA”) and the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SODRAC) Inc. (“SODRAC”).
A motion to approve the settlements agreements will be heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 10:00am at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario. Class Members are permitted to appear and make submissions at the hearings with respect to the settlements or to make submissions in writing. Class Members who do not oppose the proposed settlements need not appear at the hearings or take any other action at this time to indicate their desire to participate in the settlements.
...digital products are not at issue in the class action.