Print 41 comment(s) - last by jconan.. on Jan 20 at 11:47 PM

Well, you wouldn't if you were RIAA/CRIA, at least. You'd go after a more lucrative target, like stealing hundreds of thousands of tracks from hard working independent musicians.  (Source: MPAA/RIAA)

Record companies around the world contend that they are the only ones allowed to steal musicians' work.  (Source: Corbis)
After infringing on thousands of artists' works, the big four labels agree to collectively pay them $45M USD

Since the 1980s, record companies have taken tracks from musicians who had not signed with them and put them on a "pending list". This left thousands of musicians receiving no royalties as the major labels used, distributed, and even profited off their tracks.

In Canada alone, this situation reached the point where 300,000 tracks, some dated back to the 1980s were listed as "pending".  Some musicians were actively working -- to no avail -- to stop the record companies from pirating their tracks.

Now they have a bit of vindication.  After a long class action lawsuit dating back to 2008, filed on behalf of angry independent musicians, Warner Music, Sony BMG Music, EMI Music, and Universal Music have in effect acknowledged that they were engaging in copyright infringement.  They have agreed to settle to the tune of $45M USD. 

The Canadian Recording Industry Association CRIA, the Canadian sister organization of the RIAA, and the organization that represents the major labels claim that the payout is not an admission of guilt.  They write, "The settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the record labels."

Apparently they believe that they did not pirate tracks or commit copyright infringement because they hoped to pay artists at some point -- although they never did.  In essence, their argument also boils down that it was too hard to find and legally purchase the tracks.

Unfortunately, the victory for the small artists is mostly symbolic.  In Canada, the U.S., and abroad, major record labels plan to continue to sell music they've essentially pirated from "unknown artists".  The lawsuit does nothing to change this situation.

Equally unfortunate is the hypocrisy of these record labels, which have perpetually worked to block the public from experiencing the same joys of piracy that's made record company executives rich and corpulent.

They've been hard at work funneling money to politicians to try to pass new international laws and treaties like ACTA, which could send peer-to-peer engine developers and those who share pirated music and movies to prison for the first time

This irony is duly noted by the artists in the lawsuit, who write, "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 wife of Edwyn Collins, a major 90s British alternative star with the band Orange Juice, summed it up nicely, while describing how British record labels had stolen her husband's work and blocked him from posting it himself on online.  She stated, "[We are] aware of who the biggest bootleggers are. It's not the filesharers. [A Girl Like You is sold] not by Edwyn, [but] by all sorts of respectable major labels whose licence to sell it ran out years ago and who do not account to him."

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By cjohnson2136 on 1/11/2011 10:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
These record labels have been fighting Limewire, p2p, and all this other pirated stuff when they have been doing themselves. This is bull$h!t and i hope they end up paying out more money to those unknown artists.

RE: Really....
By GulWestfale on 1/11/2011 10:46:13 AM , Rating: 5
They should be forced to pay the same amount per song that they demand from 'private pirates'.
45m doesn't seem enough.

RE: Really....
By marvdmartian on 1/11/2011 10:57:45 AM , Rating: 5
How about we count up the songs they've stolen over the years, then determine how many people they've "shared" them with (for a fee, which is even WORSE!), THEN use the same figure per song per share that they used on Jammie Thomas??

Ought to cost the record companies about 45 BILLION then, wouldn't you say?

Loved this line, too:

Apparently they believe that they did not pirate tracks or commit copyright infringement because they hoped to pay artists at some point -- although they never did.

Any bets on how long it will take, before someone tries to use that as a defense to sharing music online?? ;)

RE: Really....
By cjohnson2136 on 1/11/2011 11:18:52 AM , Rating: 3
I would agree wiht the 45 billion because they have been doing this sicne the 80's. I mean come on they have been ripping the artists and consumers off since the 80's making us pay for stuff they stole from others.

RE: Really....
By Solandri on 1/11/2011 8:55:48 PM , Rating: 3
I believe the $45 billion figure comes from the maximum penalty under US Copyright law: $200 to $150,000 per infringed work. 300,000 works * $150,000 per work = $45 billion.

It really is a pity this wasn't a U.S. case. Even as a settlement it would've established $150 per infringed work as a "reasonable" baseline for copyright infringement suits by the RIAA. Unfortunately it's a Canadian case, and Canadian citizens are (for the time being) shielded from copyright infringement of music by the universal CD tax the CRIA unwittingly managed to get passed back in the 1990s. So it can't even be used in their defense.

RE: Really....
By kattanna on 1/11/2011 11:36:43 AM , Rating: 2
will be interesting to see if that jammie case can now go back and only have to pay $150 per song like the labels have instead of the $62,500 per song according to her latest outcome

or.... have the labels pay the same as her, though it should be the max of $150,000 per since they did it to make money.

RE: Really....
By sonoran on 1/11/2011 2:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
Let's see - 300,000 songs times $62,500/song - that works out to about $18.75 billion if my math is correct. Damned shame the RIAA didn't get taken to the same court.

RE: Really....
By HrilL on 1/11/2011 4:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
that is only Canadian artist. The real number is likely in the millions and the fact they profited. That is what the laws we have in place are really meant to stop. People from profiting from others works not from people sharing something because they think everyone should also enjoy something they love.

RE: Really....
By wordsworm on 1/20/2011 8:58:18 PM , Rating: 2
Unlike those who refused to settle with the record companies, the record companies are agreeing to settle with the artists. The difference here is the level of basic intelligence.

If anyone can recall, the RIAA tried to settle with those two cases for a relatively small amount of money. It's the jurors who assigned the millions to the organization.

RE: Really....
By bah12 on 1/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: Really....
By tastyratz on 1/11/2011 12:14:42 PM , Rating: 4
Ironic? I think not you just are not viewing the situation whole.
Ironic would be if the RIAA kept the songs as pending and listened to them in their homes.

The situation is that they stole copied and made a profit from all of these songs. That is seperate from your standard issue college kid piracy.

This is equivalent to basement cd presses selling counterfit music that looks legit in stores.

What the RIAA did was wrong, and they should absolutely be held accountable for it.
They profited from the works of others, they did not steal for personal use because they did not find it worth full price in store.

45 million is absolutely a joke for just Canada even. (note its 47.5mil CAD)
Also this is a settlement to be approved in Feb, this is not an agreed upon one.
A proposed settlement of approximately CDN $47.5 million dollars was reached with four major record labels

Class action members could still reject it

(Src) n/Cases/Pending_Lists_New

RE: Really....
By Invane on 1/11/2011 12:25:42 PM , Rating: 5
I would hope they definitely don't agree to this and run the RIAA into the ground with it. With all the groundwork the RIAA has layed, they would seem to have a very strong argument for steeper penalties in light of the fact that the RIAA's infringement strongly appears to be both willful and for profit.

Course, like any class action suit, the lawyers will still make most of the money rather than the people that deserve it.

RE: Really....
By Hyperion1400 on 1/11/2011 8:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
Course, like any class action suit, the lawyers will still make most of the money rather than the people that deserve it.

For once, I don't care, as long as they rape the record labels with the laws they fought so hard to create! If they can pull it off, they DESERVE the ludicrous windfall!

RE: Really....
By Invane on 1/11/2011 12:21:04 PM , Rating: 5
I think you're missing the point. They aren't 'pro' fines or 'for' larger penalties. These people are rightfully pissed off that when the SAME companies that are laying millions of dollars in fines on some guy making 30k a year commit the exact same crime on a far grander scale, they are suddenly paying a small percentage of what they demand from everyone else. The utter hypocrisy displayed by the RIAA is appalling.

You shouldn't have one measuring stick for meting out punishment when other people infringe your copyrighted works, and a second much smaller measuring stick for when you decide you want to infringe others' copyrights.

RE: Really....
By acer905 on 1/11/2011 12:33:52 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, copying something for private use has long been accepted, if not actually legal. For instance nobody ever complained (much) when VCR's came out and people started recording TV shows for personal use. However, selling copied movies was actively fought.

These companies have been actively selling and profiting off of copyrighted material. This is violating the copyright in the worst way possible.

Ultimately, the only reason that personal use copying ever came into the spotlight was when the internet allowed unlimited access to vast collections of music. Loss of potential profit became a driving force for the RIAA to attack the so called "pirates"

In copyright law, fair use should cover instances which do not involve profit as a result of the copying. Even now the RIAA and MPAA do not attack DVR's, even though people can use them to record and store as much content as they would like, unless the person is caught selling the content. Whether or not a person makes money by violating a copyright is actually a major point and should not be dismissed

RE: Really....
By nolisi on 1/11/2011 1:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
Along with the previous comments, the problem is exacerbated when you realize the Industry used legitimate means to move and profit from stolen goods because they have control over the market. You and I can't make and take a large number of legitimate looking copies of the latest Beyonce CD to Walmart and have them sell it for you without question. This practice has made other companies potentially liable for moving stolen goods.

The four facts that make this different than the average file sharing case:
1)They have control over legitimate distribution channels and used it to distribute stolen goods
2)They did it before the *mass* market gained the ability to make copies of music
3)They profited off of the lawsuits they issued against others as well as the pirated music
4)They advocated and instituted the laws and disproportionate penalties against regular people

I have no sorrow for faceless businesses that creates and enforces double standard. People would not have entered the black market that the Industry created had they not artificially controlled prices; ironically, the Industry was in the black market before any filesharers ever dreamed of entering it.

RE: Really....
By Hyperion1400 on 1/11/2011 8:15:39 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, if you use the 250K max per infringement, then they should be liable for up to $75 Billion. Hell, even Intel would have a hard time coming up with that kind of coin!

RE: Really....
By XZerg on 1/11/2011 12:38:03 PM , Rating: 3
They are like Siamese twins except that one is a robber and the other is a cop. They deserve to be penalized much more (say 10x) than a typical pirate given they should be more aware of why stealing music is bad than anyone, let alone a pirate.

RE: Really....
By jconan on 1/20/2011 11:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
It's like a drop in the bucket for RIAA's theft compared to the millions that extorted off of grandmothers, children, students, and ordinary folks with no money. RIAA should be paying 1000x for the pain and suffering that they inflicted on working artists, swindling consumers into buying stolen property and having online stores ie Apple, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, and etc abetting them and extorting money from online radio companies as punishment should fit the crime. RIAA shouldn't only be charged just for theft, RIAA should also be held accountable for corruption, organized mafia, racketeering (extortion), money laundering, RIAA propaganda, false accusations, defamation, price fixing, bribery of congressional representatives to write laws favoring them eg ACTA, and the list probably goes on and on...

Double standards... This sounds like it's worse than Watergate.

RE: Really....
By RivuxGamma on 1/16/2011 12:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
I say charge them enough so that they can just barely cover operating costs for 5 years (not legal costs) and strike the laws that they bought out of existence.

taking a page from the record labels
By menting on 1/11/2011 11:54:49 AM , Rating: 5
So I guess we can all pirate music, but write down on a piece of paper that we intend to pay them back sometime in the future, and it'll be all good? I mean, if they say it's not an admission of fault, that means we can do it too and they can't sue us right?

RE: taking a page from the record labels
By uhgotnegum on 1/11/2011 12:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot to refresh the comments before beat me to the snarky argument!

By menting on 1/11/2011 1:08:33 PM , Rating: 2
i'm sneaky like that :)

By johnsonx on 1/15/2011 12:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
I just renamed the folder that holds all my music to "Pending".

By dark matter on 1/11/2011 1:13:00 PM , Rating: 3
Perhaps when you sign up for something like limewire, you sign a disclaimer that "at some point I will definitely buy this album"

RE: Awesome...
By erple2 on 1/11/2011 1:46:25 PM , Rating: 4
I think a more air-tight way to do it would be:

Looking to secure funds to purchase this in the future.

Can you say hypocrite?
By masamasa on 1/11/2011 1:21:26 PM , Rating: 3
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

"To steal the content of artists via download is illegal and will result in lawsuits and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law, even though we have stolen the songs ourselves.", said RIAA chairman Bob "Crooked" Jones.

RE: Can you say hypocrite?
By joex444 on 1/11/2011 7:19:06 PM , Rating: 1
I was waiting for someone to call this "stealing." It's copyright infrigement. In the strictest sense of the phrase, too. The true artists, not someone from corporate who's biggest passion in life is money, have a song. What is a song but a sequence of noises well timed and documented, probably recorded on some medium. But the artist does not release the song for sale. There's nothing physical RIAA can steal... they've stolen an idea, a concept, an intangible bit of a magic cloud.

This, friends, is why it is copyright infringement... not theft, not stealing. And those who use P2P or other methods of acquiring digital music or other entertainment without paying are infringing in the same manner, but it is certainly not theft nor stealing. We've had about a decade to get this idea straight, what's so hard to understand? It would be stealing if you walk into a store and leave with an unpaid CD or blu-ray, possibly with security chasing you.

There's a whole different form of infringement where in the infringer attempts to profit from the act. This is actually what these companies were doing. This is the same as street vendors in China offering MS Windows 7 for $5. These kind of bootleggers generally don't do so well in court and the only reason these companies have done better is they've paid our politicians. Perhaps we should stop voting with our money and start voting, well, with our votes.

RE: Can you say hypocrite?
By jconan on 1/19/2011 1:24:17 AM , Rating: 2
It's still stealing as RIAA hasn't paid the artist and they are making a killing or googols of cash off stolen property without consent.

screw 'em
By Argon18 on 1/11/2011 11:00:11 AM , Rating: 5
RIAA is a bunch of crooks and hypocrites. Fcuk the RIAA.

By uhgotnegum on 1/11/2011 12:42:15 PM , Rating: 5
If the RIAA ever came knocking on my door and claimed I had been stealing music, I would simply point out that the songs in question are in my "pending list" of future purchases.

...oh, if only contemptuous sarcasm could be used as an argument in a court of law.

It helps to have deep pockets
By Pentium2 on 1/11/2011 1:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
Justice is blind. HA HA HA

RE: It helps to have deep pockets
By Camikazi on 1/11/2011 10:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
Justice is blind, but it does have a sense of feel and knows when money is placed in it's hands :)

Sharing is immoral?
By SHawk on 1/11/2011 4:47:43 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand, what is wrong with file sharing? People share things with each other, whether it is happiness, food, knowledge (books) or movies. Putting aside the legal argument for a moment, if my friend gives me his LOTR DVD, is he doing something that is inherently wrong? Is he an immoral/bad person for sharing? I don't think so. If I start a local service for swapping or trading books/movies/music among friends, am I a bad/evil person or a thief? Should sharing be outlawed and everyone be made to purchase every single object that they want to use?

We have to differentiate between the moral and legal arguments here. Copyright law was never meant to stop people from sharing things from one another. The original intent of the law was to promote innovation by guaranteeing the original author a certain period of exclusivity/monopoly on his invention/creation. It was to stop people from profiting off other's work and giving the original innovator his due. Over time though, copyright law has been converted into a sort of weapon to be used by big business to make profits by unethical and immoral means. Today, the copyrights of the songs we buy aren't owned by the artists, but by a cartel of big music labels who impose absurd levels of control on the creation and dissemination of the artists' works.

The virtue of sharing things with one another has been turned into a crime punishable by jail or heavy fines that would bankrupt any middle class individual. Ideally, these big music labels would like every single person of every family to buy their songs/movies separately to maximize their profit. And they have been steadily making progress in their aims with the help of politicians, who they openly provide millions of dollars to in the form of campaign donations and other "causes".

Democracy has become a sham. Big business has so much power that they can engineer legislation of laws that favor them over the common man, consumer rights be damned. We live in a world that has become a victim of excessive corporatism-favoring the rich over the poor, the powerful over the weak. The only way to turn things around is to reform the very nature of the democratic process to come up with a government that is truly representative of its people.

RE: Sharing is immoral?
By SHawk on 1/11/2011 4:53:35 PM , Rating: 2
Am I evil because I refuse to comply in protecting a particular business model? Would I be a bad person if I refuse to share my mp3s with my kid because of 'copyright laws'?

What makes you a bad person?

Is it the same thing that makes you a criminal?

If not, don't we need to re-write the laws to reflect common sense and promote justice?

RIAA of Pirates
By Belard on 1/11/2011 12:28:35 PM , Rating: 3
They should be shut down. Obviously, they're the biggest pirates in the world and making a profit. The P2P are generally just kids sharing and not buying anything... as if they would anyways. Much of todays music is crap... other than a few songs.

One of the best ways to get great music is to use Internet radio which generally does pay these unknown artist. somafm and pandora are excellent ones to start with. I love soma for just letting it go...

By nafhan on 1/11/2011 10:43:51 AM , Rating: 2
So, the labels behind the RIAA aren't completely honest? Shocking...

By bug77 on 1/11/2011 11:53:00 AM , Rating: 2
... goes on to download some music hoping to pay the copyright holders at some point.

I wonder if this would work ....
By nodamnspam on 1/11/2011 9:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
Dear Record Label,

I am writing you to inform you that I will be paying you one day for all the music I have downloaded over the internet all these years. I thank you for your understanding and I fully intent to pay for all this music at some point. Not sure when... but I will.


Joe Public

I mean the record labels can do it so why can't the people who downloaded the content for their own use and did not profit from it.

This basically once again proves rules for corporations are far different for individuals.

By jconan on 1/19/2011 12:28:34 AM , Rating: 2
How ironic, RIAA has been pirating music and making a killing but in the meantime acting like mafia. Does this mean that online music buyers are buying pirated works too and thus are pirates indirectly? There are millions of iTunes, Zune users who do not believe they're pirating because they are buying from a large name company.

Imagine Al Capone and company were able to legitimize the mafia like media company legitimized RIAA and MPAA, there might be even worse treaties than ACTA.

By Jkm3141 on 1/20/2011 11:53:54 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps if the RIAA ever tries to file a copyright infringement suit against myself, I'll claim that I was planning on paying for the music eventually, even if it will take 20-30 years, and that I am guilty of nothing.

If the defense works for the RIAA, it should work for everyone else.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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