Major record labels rip off 300,000 songs for compilation CDs, may owe $60 billion in damages


68 Responses to “Major record labels rip off 300,000 songs for compilation CDs, may owe $60 billion in damages”

  1. Snowrunner says:

    Somehow I’m fairly certain that, if they lose, the labels will be fined the minimum damages despite recent cases where individuals were charged the maximum.

    Not in Canada, here they only tried once to sue uploaders and were told by the judge that it won’t work that way as they get the levy on the empty CDs (it was a bit more complex than that, but that’s essentially how it played out).

    Still, it will be interesting how the courts rule, but even if the labels lose it won’t have any effect on the individual downloaders / uploaders as this would still fall under the “commercial exploitation” and Canadian Copyright already covers this.

    Time for some popcorn.

  2. Camp Freddie says:

    Well if it’s 20,000 USD per song for a non-commercial copy, then the fines must be much higher for commercial infringement, right?

    I hope the record labels get the maximum possible fine, since this is a clear attempt to intentionally and knowingly break the law in order to make money.

    This story has finally converted me from thinking that the recording industry are merely greedy (News at eleven, corporate executives want more money!) to thinking that they are a criminal cartel.

  3. joelfinch says:

    These guys are trying to eat the internet to stop the rest of the world from doing what they apparently do routinely in the name of an easy buck.

    I wanted to be all ironic and clever, but it turns out I’m just plain furious.

  4. Fanatic says:

    I would also give up Christmas to see them have to pay the billions……but it’d be $6b not $60b at 20k*300k wouldn’t it?

    Which would still make me happy to se ethem have to fork over….like it’d happen though

    These are just two of the latest stories that confirm I will never willingly buy a major label release again – maybe used if I really want it…..I am all for supporting artists and will spend my money in manners that do that. Major labels certainly are not it.

  5. joeposts says:

    Geist corrected his blog – it’s $6 billion.

    Off by a factor of 10, but still, that’s a lot of cake!

  6. dragonfrog says:

    I think the $20K / $80K difference is not because of who’s doing it, but what country they’re doing it in – the $80K per song cases were in the USA, this is in Canada where I’d guess the statutes provide for $20K per song, not $80K.

  7. Anonymous says:

    in the words of Nelson Munch – Haha!

  8. RevEng says:

    I don’t remember the details, but isn’t the penalty $20,000 per infringement? I would expect each infringement to be each song on each album, i.e. one for each new compilation album produced. If that were the case, the actual damages would be astronomical!

    • cymk says:

      I’m not sure how the trials in Canada turned out as far as the what the charges were to the defendant and how much damages the record companies were claiming, but I do recall the recent Jammie Thomas-Rasset trial here in the states. In that trial, the record companies went after her on a song for song infringement, $80k per song for a total of 24 songs (1.92 million total).

      But even at that calculation, $80k times 300k infringments only comes out to $24 billion USD.

      • arkizzle / Moderator says:

        $80k times 300k = $24 billion

        It’s CAD$20,000 per infringement, not USD$80.000. And your calculation only shows the (number of tracks) x (fine per infringement), but if we are working on infringement meaning per-copy-made, then your calculation needs to show the (number of tracks) x (fine per infringement) x (number of infringements).

        Hmm.. at those calculations, it would be 20k x 300k = 6 Billion. Which would then imply 10 infringements.. doesn’t seem right, unless they’ve restricted the numbers like they did in Jammie Thomas-Rasset (only charging 24 tracks).

        Anyone got real numbers for this?

  9. the old rang says:

    Let’s see now:

    The owe $60 Billion:

    Simple solution:

    Ban all the major music/video corporations and all affiliates, especially all their attorneys/barristers/private investigators, etc. from ever using the inter net again. (or any subsequent name they may wish to change it to, in order to circumvent the order) for only 1 year per offence (aggregate, all guilty parties, equally guilty.)

    All fines collected, may not be shared by any attorneys involved in the media industry. other than those suing the media companies… and must be distributed to the public at large (no politicians that have accepted any donations from said media corps, need be concerned. All politicians involved in writing the law, shall be treated as co-defendants.) Those suing the media, may only get reasonable fees, nothing more than 0.5% (which is not a small sum)

    Since this is an egregious and premeditated offence of an ongoing nature, all media, attorneys and politicians involved in the law, should all be required to serve minimal jail time of 1 hour per offence served consecutively, no concurrent time allowed, and fines may not be reduced. They may share the debt of the fines, but all sums must be collected before time served counts- jailing starts at end of trial…time counts when money has been fully collected.

    Ignorance of the law is neither an excuse, not possible, on the part of the defendants, in this case.

    (That should solve a bunch of the world’s problems)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cory you’re drawing the wrong conclusion from the cited article. Chet’s estate filed a class action suit on behalf of numerous artists with a total of 300,000 known infringements. Chet’s estate will get some of that but I don’t think Chet managed to record 300,000 tracks in his lifetime.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Where is the RIAA on this one?

  12. Baldhead says:

    “It is difficult to understand why the industry has been so reluctant to pay its bills.”
    Only to people who don’t know their history. The recording industry treats artists as a necessary evil, and tends to avoid paying them as often as they can get away with.

  13. Super Nate says:

    As much as I’d love to see a $60bn judgment against the labels, I’d be much more happy with a finding that copyright as it stands is unenforceable.

  14. elix says:

    Oh please, please, let this come down hard. This would be the most fantastic Christmas present ever.

  15. Neverfox says:

    There is no such thing as intellectual property. The record labels have no moral case against individuals and that means – gasp! – that individuals have no moral case against the record labels in this case. Down with copyright.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Since they did this to make money, they should be fined in full. They fine the little people in full when they do this for person use only and not to make money.
    I hope people watch this. And when they do get small fines, I hope people who got sued by the music industry past and future use the outcome of this to get their fines minimalized. I’ve also been very curious if the fines that have been imposed on people who download are actually going to the singers/song writters or if the music industry is pocketing 100%. It would be very intersting to know.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If the infringement is per-track, it may be $60bn. $20,000 x 10 tracks (average) per cd x 300,000 cds. If its per cd, or the 300,000 number is the infringing tracks (and not infringing cds), then $6bn seems correct.

  18. Daemon says:

    Hoist? Check.
    Petard? Check.
    Let the games begin!

  19. lava says:


    I’m ready for the Public Option in the music industry too.

  20. millionpoems says:

    > entitled to up to CAD$60 billion

    Sounds more like he’s entitled to CAD$20,000 per infringed song. Still pretty tough luck for the defendants.

    All I can ever think of when I see stories like this is the IT Crowd infringement spoof. Curse you, Linehan!

  21. TheMadLibrarian says:

    Mmmmm… the smell of schaudenfreude in the morning is what I live for.

  22. lasttide says:

    Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever.

    Somehow I’m fairly certain that, if they lose, the labels will be fined the minimum damages despite recent cases where individuals were charged the maximum.

  23. zandar says:

    now that’s change I can believe in, Anon #55!! Sign me up.

  24. cymk says:

    Damn, I knew the recording industry were a bunch of greedy fucks, but this is the icing on the cake. Is incompetence like this rampant in large organizations? In recent memory this is the second time (that I can recall, the watchmen movie being the first) that the acquisition of rights have been put on a “to-do” list and then the list is subsequently lost.

    I hope they pay through the nose for this crap. I hope that politicians will wake up and stop the insane from running the asylum. I hope musicians abandon record labels en mass, letting those rotting husks of the record industry die.

  25. dwhitaker says:

    Perhaps the recording industry will be on the other end of a judgment which most reasonable people would find excessive ($80,000 per song and the like). It is unlikely that they will be fined the maximum, but there is always hope for a karmic judgment.

  26. insert says:

    IANAL, but this seems to be a textbook case of where the “Unclean hands doctrine” may come into play. The RIAA, if they’re proven to have engaged in such gross and malicious copyright infringement, may in fact lose the right to sue others for copyright infringement. The idea is that the RIAA must play by the rules it wants others to play by: if they don’t, courts can refuse to rule for them in similar cases.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Someone should really explain to these labels that piracy is wrong – especially when it’s for profit and not just personal use. (Then again, I’m sure the execs use the profit for personal purchases and large, personal pay cheques.)

  28. Anonymous says:

    So, this does mean that these record companies will lose their Internet access, right? Three strikes and you’re out?

  29. ryanrafferty says:

    It is possible that as the statement of claim is popping up in a few politician’s e-mail inbox this morning, causing beads of sweat to form on the foreheads of those who needed that money to get reelected… It will be interesting to see the actual reaction to this lawsuit.

  30. AirPillo says:

    The worst pirates in the world are the ones who tell the rest of us not to be pirates.

  31. demidan says:

    “No, those laws we are proposing do NOT apply to us, they only apply to individuals, corporations you see are not people”-CEO Screw the People LTD.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Clearly these flagrant copyright infringers, or ‘thieves’ to give them their proper name, should be fined to the greatest extent of the law to make an example of them lest other, young, easily misled record labels take this action to mean that it’s all right to steal music.

  33. Anonymous says:

    While I’d LOVE to see the labels eat the big one for this and pay the full fees, there’s no way the labels themselves (not the parent corporations) have the capital. Look at EMI’s recent inability to obtain a bank loan to cover its own ass for the foreseeable future… the labels are in dire straights and I feel like that’s a big part of why the RIAA has continued its witch hunt for those “missing cd sales.”

    Instead of fighting back, we should just float away on a magical cloud piloted by Jesus, FSM and Lakitu and forget completely the boundaries of our Earthly delights, reveling forever in a sea of free music and movies. Remember… there are NO boundaries in Fantasia, physical OR intellectual, and EVERYONE has a cigar box guitar.

    Sorry guys, I’m a little high.

    Peace and Fair Use,

  34. Anonymous says:

    Prediction: Record industry uses it’s high-powered lawyers to turn the tables and counter-sue the defendant(s) (for defamation or something), and win a large cash award.

    Seriously, the defendant(s) have about zero chance of winning.

  35. Joe The Wizard says:

    It is nothing less than they deserve. I hope the record company loses the entire amount.

  36. Ian70 says:

    People, people, people…

    It’s only ‘stealing’ if WE do it! If Big Music does it it’s ‘marketing’.

    When we share music with our friends, we’re not trying to promote the artists we like to people whom we know very well, we’re being horrible thieving pirates who break Holy Commandments.
    When Big Music releases and sells compilation albums, and then doesn’t compensate artists for sale of their work, it’s because.. well I can’t think of a reason right now.. but dammit I’m sure they’ve got a Very Good Reason why they would sell music and not compensate the artists involved, especially until after they’re.. you know.. Dead.

    Hmm, perhaps the reason is “Because They Can”.

  37. andygates says:

    So the Canadian RIA is suing the American RIA? Pop will eat itself.

  38. meatpigeon says:

    Awesome Awesome Awesome!!!!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Dear Santa,

    I have been a very good boy this year. RIAA however has been very bad. Please make sure they receive a $6 Billion lump of coal in their stocking this year. That would make my year.

    Sincerely – Dave in Canada

  40. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    According to Ars:

    ..possibly to the tune of $60 billion. This is because the class is asking for both statutory and punitive damages for the labels’ behavior (as Geist points out, the same standards being used to go after individual file sharers), meaning that the labels could be asked to pay up to $20,000 per infringement.

  41. Tony Moore says:

    haha. their own dogs of war biting them in the ass.

    i know they won’t be held anywhere near the standards to which they hold the public, but it’s a nice dream.


  42. Anonymous says:

    wow lets fight for the music who make the work is the musician NOT records labels they only steal the music from the real musician

  43. efergus3 says:

    “Thieves, thieves, tramps and thieves”

    • MrsBug says:

      Wow, a Cher reference. That is awesome.

      On the topic of Big Music: Can you smell what they’re cookin’? It’s called “hypocrisy”

  44. davidasposted says:

    Please, oh please let them end up having to pay the full $60b amount. I would give up Christmas for that…

  45. helltourist says:

    Oh, the irony. So delicious.
    Next they’ll admit they got the music from the pirate bay.

  46. Anonymous says:


    This is what I’ve been saying — Canada views music and movie production as transient and expendable — we pay for it in taxes, then throw it away.

    To expect us to enforce others’ IP rights, considering we don’t support our own, is completely unrealistic!

    This blade cuts both ways.

  47. sumitagarwal says:

    Uhm, does anyone else think it’s strange that when the industry does it, it’s $20,000 per infringement but when individuals do it, it’s $80,000 per infringement?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Ha-ha. Suck it Big Record Companies! Ain’t karma a bitch?

  49. gollux says:

    Wow, talk about some real piracy going on…

  50. louis717 says:

    Lmmm… if Chet Baker’s estate say they’re entitled to 60$ cad billion, what about all the other ”estates”, the total amount could be in the thousands of trillions … hey wait a minute ! … that’s exactly the total debt of the americans ! … so this is another disguise attempt by the americans to pay their debts by grabbing the astronomical richness of Canadians…

  51. Anonymous says:

    Re: the discrepancy of 80 and 20k. I’m guessing Canada has slightly smaller caps on infringments.
    It’s not 20k per song he’s entitled to, it’s 20k Per Infrigement. i.e. You have to count each time they printed or broadcast the song seperately.
    Karma’s a bitch, but you gotta love her howl.

  52. Kimmo says:

    My hypocrisy meter just tried to divide by zero.

  53. Phrosty says:

    You KNOW they’re not going to pay the full $60B, if they pay anything at all.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Do they get kicked off the internet too?

  55. RevEng says:

    Oh, sweet irony! And the fact that they admit they owe at least $50 million is priceless.

    I only hope they are taken to the cleaners with this one. You reap what you sow, and these are the same bastards who lobbied for years to get the $20,000 per song punitive damages and have railed against consumers to have those penalties enforced.

    I wonder, what will the implications of this be on ACTA and other upcoming copyright laws? $60 billion could be enough to bankrupt the entire recording industry.

  56. Anonymous says:

    ahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahaha … cough…hack…cough..[inhale] HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    How about 60 billion days in the worst prison in Canada for *each* executhief and all the corporate board members, and how about all their lawyers, too? I **do** hope they are jointly and severably liable for the penalties: the corporations should cease to exist, and the executhieves should be left completely destitute.

    I hope they suffer a great deal :)

    PS: The ReCaptcha thing for comments isn’t working reliably.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Wow…why do bad things happen to good people?

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