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Artists -- or their estates -- may get some money from the Limewire settlement. But according to lawyers past settlements have paid out little to artists, despite big promises. The lawyer for the estate of the late Tupac Shakur (pictured) said that typically only the "noisiest" artists get paid.  (Source: AP)
But past settlements have seen little distributed to artists

Major music labels and their trade group, the Recording Industry Association of America, scored a major victory over LimeWire last year, shutting down the P2P service.  The results were noticeable -- an immediate dip in filesharing traffic.  Though perhaps the thrill of that victory will be temporary for the RIAA, they can console themselves with a record settlement of $105M USD that a jury awarded them last week after lengthy negotiations.

Filesharing-centric blog TorrentFreak ran one of the first stories on the settlement and quoted RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy as stating, "Any funds recouped are re-invested into our ongoing education and anti-piracy programs."

This might lead one to believe the music artists would get none of the settlement.

After a dialogue with Mr. Lamy we realize this may not necessarily be the case.  First, Mr. Lamy's comment was delivered years ago, when the suit was just warming up.  Second, his comments may have referred to only the RIAA's share of the settlement -- remember the music labels were co-plaintiffs in the case.

"Far too much credence was given to a TorrentFreak 'report.' The quote attributed to me was something I said years ago in reference to the end-user litigation program, which did not generate any revenue for the record companies." complains Mr. Lamy. "The RIAA has made no comment [at the time of the settlement] on how the recoveries in the LimeWire case would be distributed. That is a decision for the individual plaintiffs. However, the record companies have historically shared large litigation recoveries such as the KaZaa settlement with their artists.”

Ultimately, TorrentFreak's conclusion -- though not as well sourced as it appeared -- may still prove semi-accurate.

The New York Times ran a piece on the settlement in their Media Decoder blog.  They quote Warner Music Group as commenting, "We will share the settlement money with our artists."

Similar promises were made with lawsuit settlements with other P2P giants, including Napster, Kazaa, and Grokster.  And money was indeed set aside.

But according to many major musicians the money was largely never distributed to artists.  Bob Donnelly, a longtime lawyer for artists is quoted by NYT as stating, "I don't remember any of my artists’ accountants ever saying, 'Hey, guess what, we got a great bonus this month.'"

Another question that even if some of the money is eventually set aside and distributed, how it will be divvied out.  A major record label can have thousands of artists on the main label and hundreds of imprints.  Some say that only the biggest artists will stand a decent chance at collecting a piece of the record loot.

Dina LaPolt, a lawyer for Steven Tyler, the estate of late 90s rap icon Tupac Shakur, and others is quoted as adding, "It’s going to be the artists that make noise. They are the ones that are going to get paid."

At the end of the day the settlement provides few answers to the big questions and challenges facing the music industry.  And if history is any indication RIAA and labels will likely pocket a large chunk the settlement; and the money they do choose share will go only towards a privileged handful of established artists.  But, for what it's worth, the RIAA wanted to set the record straight -- they never said that musicians would get nothing

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RE: Worthless
By TSS on 5/18/2011 11:20:33 AM , Rating: 5
Yknow, we've been blaming the RIAA for these actions the entire time, but artists share some of the blame too. They signed with the RIAA. You can't go asking the maffia for a favor then complain when they want to be repaid a favor.

In this day and age it's perfectly possible to promote yourself over the internet. The real money is in the concerts. While this might seem unfair against deceased artists like tupac, he's not making any more music nor is he enjoying the money he made or making with music so i don't see the problem.

Considering what today is considered as music, i have to conclude that infact the right party got paid. The record labels *made* this music. Especially since of late autotune has become popular so not even a singers voice, horrible and digitally remastered as they where, can be counted on as a production of the artist. I doubt many, if any, write their own songs these days.

And the ones who do make proper music DON'T NEED the RIAA/record labels.

While i'm all for burning the RIAA and record labels down to the ground, we can't say artists didn't reap what they sowed. My dad is a classical sheet music composer. I asked him why he didn't sign with the RIAA to get his music more known. He said because he would lose total control over his own music, and no price was worth that. I'm proud to say my dad is an artist.

These men and women who are mear bodies aren't artists. Their prostitutes.

RE: Worthless
By Darkefire on 5/18/2011 1:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
The problems still arise, though, because the RIAA is the mafia in every sense of the word including strong-arming the legislature to get what they want. One of their creations, SoundExchange, has secured a license to collect royalties on every song played on internet radio, regardless of whether or not the artist is part of the RIAA or if they're even offering the song for free download. It's disgusting that organizations like these have so much power, we could fire every single person in our government and their replacements would still find themselves beholden to the almighty dollar that the RIAA lobbyists and their ilk wield. They've got a modern-day protection racket going with these lawsuits, the only difference is that they've paid off lawmakers instead of law enforcement.

RE: Worthless
By drycrust3 on 5/18/2011 3:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
They signed with the RIAA.

OK, so you think they shouldn't have the RIAA representing them, so how do you propose that musicians, actors, TV program companies, etc, get income from what they produce?

RE: Worthless
By Jalek on 5/19/2011 1:31:18 AM , Rating: 2
They used to for distribution and radio airplay.

Now that the RIAA is targeting FM radio as a pirate outlet anyway and nobody over 16 buys a CD from a retail store, the advantages are pretty thin aside from using the marketing machine to push garbage.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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