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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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?

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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