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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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!

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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