Canadian Music Industry Faces $6 Billion Copyright Infringement Trial

Canadian Music Industry Faces $6 Billion Copyright Infringement Trial

Accused of using songs on compilation CDs or live recordings under pretense that “approval and payment is pending,” though the so-called “pending list” has grown to 300,000 and counting, and now artists, fed up with continued infringement by record labels, are demanding $20,000 per infringement as part of a massive class-action lawsuit.

I love news stories that involve record labels ripping off the artists they love to claim they represent, especially when it illustrates just how greedy and deceptive they really are.

For the estate of the late jazz musician Chet Baker is suing Sony BMG, EMI Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music for rampant and continued copyright infringement spanning several decades as part of a massive class-action lawsuit.

The record labels are accused of using songs in compilation CDs or live recordings under pretense that “approval and payment is pending,” though the so-called “Pending List” has grown to 300,000 and counting, and now artists, fed up with continued infringement by record labels, are demanding $20,000 per infringement as part of a massive class-action lawsuit meaning the total judgment could be as high as $6 billion!

As part of their lawsuit they want an independent audit of the defendants books and records, including the Pending Lists, specifically to determine what works were illegally produced without a license, financial gains made as a result, and the mechanical royalties and unpaid interest artists should’ve earned as a result.

The lawsuit notes that permission from the copyright holder to reproduce their work was not obtained in most cases, and that record labels would simply “presume that a license can be obtained from the copyright owner in exchange for the payment of the prevailing ‘industry rate’ payable for mechanical reproduction,” but then they largely failed to even seek out the artists and compensate them for using their work.

Also included are several Canadian music licensing and royalty collection groups whom the plaintiffs claim record labels have frustrated their efforts to carry out their duties by “restricting access to the Pending Lists, by their unreliable accounting practices, by providing incomplete or inaccurate information in relation to the musical works used, and by generally refusing to compensate class members.”

The record labels have already admitted they owe at least $50,000,000, but nobody believes it has made a full accounting of money owed.

Again, the thought that record labels are being sued for infringing the copyrights of the artists it so actively defends by suing file-sharers for the same charges is a delicious irony that is sure to turn a few heads.

Stay tuned.

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