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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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.

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