Major record labels forced to pay CAD$45M to ripped-off musicians

Michael Geist sez, "The four major record labels that comprise the Canadian Recording Industry Association - EMI Music Canada Inc., Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. - have agreed to pay $45 million to settle one of the largest copyright class action lawsuits in Canadian history. The settlement comes after years of fruitless efforts to get the industry to pay for works it used without permission. The press release indicates that everyone is pleased with the settlement, though it is striking that it took a class action settlement to get the record labels to address their own ongoing copyright infringing practices in paying artists for the use of their works."

Note that the labels in the "Canadian" Recording Industry Association aren't Canadian labels -- they're the same multinational, US-centric cartel that runs music around the world. They're "Canadian" in the same sense that the members of Tony Soprano's "Businessmen's Club" are businessmen.

The claims arise from a longstanding practice of the recording industry in Canada, described in the lawsuit as "exploit now, pay later if at all." It involves the use of works that are often included in compilation CDs (ie. the top dance tracks of 2009) or live recordings. The record labels create, press, distribute, and sell the CDs, but do not obtain the necessary copyright licences.

Instead, the names of the songs on the CDs are placed on a "pending list", which signifies that approval and payment is pending. The pending list dates back to the late 1980s, when Canada changed its copyright law by replacing a compulsory licence with the need for specific authorization for each use. It is perhaps better characterized as a copyright infringement admission list, however, since for each use of the work, the record label openly admits that it has not obtained copyright permission and not paid any royalty or fee.

Canadian Recording Industry To Pay $45 Million To Settle Class Action Over Copyright Infringement (Thanks, Michael!)


  1. So how come a music publisher only has to pay $156 per track when filesharers have to pay so much more?

    1. Because Canadian Law and Politics isn’t AS retarded as US Law and Politics YET, despite what the Conservatives are trying to do up here.

      No one to my knowlege no one has been sued in Canada for this sort of thing, this is the first.

      Considering that the piracy that took place here was by corporations, that actually actively sold the songs on a retail market for profit and didn’t compensate artists and their hit was only 160$ a song, I would say if anyone ever does get sued up here it will be for considerably less. As it is one thing to “share” a few songs for no profit, its another to market and sell songs on CD in stores for money and not pay…

      The US court system with its John Doe privacy invasions and 150,000$ per song damages is just so ridiculous and unfair it boggles the mind. How that can exist anywhere leaves me speechless. Its something right out of some dystopian science fiction novel.

  2. Well obviously it’s only a crime to sell pirated albums if you’re an individual. Corporations are a higher form of life.

  3. “So how come a music publisher only has to pay $156 per track when filesharers have to pay so much more?”

    Because they’re corporations, silly. They’re *special*.

  4. So does that mean if downloaders burnt a few CDs and sold them, they could get off with much lower civil judgements than if they just downloaded music for themselves?

  5. Well the companies probably pay less then the individual civil cases because most of the civil cases publicized are American cases. Canadian courts don’t award as much money per infringement due to our piracy laws.

  6. So it’s okay to break the law for explicit commercial gain and distribute a pirated track to (at least) thousands of people. You just pay a fine of $156 CAD, which is insignificant when compared to your profit on thousands of copies.

    But if you pirate a track and distribute it to an average of <1 people (the average seeding ratio among all peers can't be >1 for obvious reasons) for no commercial gain then you get fined tens of thousands of $USD.

    The pending list was a criminal conspiracy to break the law for profit (erm, IANAL). They knew they were acting illegally, but did it anyway because they could make more money.

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