Canadian Record Labels Pay $45 Million to Settle Piracy Claims

Canadian Record Labels Pay $45 Million to Settle Piracy Claims

Artists win case centered around the practice of record labels using “Pending Lists” where they “presume” that a “license can be obtained from the copyright owner” and use their copyrighted works without their expressed permission. Record labels faced claims of $20,000 per each of 300,000 infringements for a total of $6 billion in damages.

It’s always ironic to hear about record labels being charged with piracy considering the lengths to which they go to try and convince the public of its immorality and harm done to society.

Enter the Canadian Recording Industry Association which for years used copyrighted music on compilation discs without the expressed permission of the songwriters and music publishers who own the works.

It centered around the practice of using “Pending Lists” in which case the record labels “presume,” according to the lawsuit, “that a license can be obtained from the copyright owner in exchange for the payment of the prevailing ‘industry rate’ payable for mechanical reproduction of musical works.”

At one point the lists had grown to over 300,000 works for which no license had been obtained and no compensation paid by record labels, thus in October of 2008 artists gave up trying to convince record labels to listen to their complaints and turned to the courts for help.

They had asked for $20,000 in damages per each infringement, meaning that the damages could have been as high as $6 billion! Faced with the certainty of a conviction for infringement, the CRIA has instead decided to settle the charges for $45 million.

“This is a very positive outcome for all parties,” said Graham Henderson, President, Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), on behalf of EMI Music Canada, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. “I commend the counsel representing rights holders and the major record labels for their constructive approach in reaching an agreement and their diligence in working through highly complex issues.”

The proposed agreement also establishes a new mechanism that will “expedite” future royalty payments to copyright holders.

“This is a very positive outcome for all parties,” said Graham Henderson, President, Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), on behalf of EMI Music Canada, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. “I commend the counsel representing rights holders and the major record labels for their constructive approach in reaching an agreement and their diligence in working through highly complex issues.”

I’m glad that the copyright holders arrived at what they felt was an equitable resolution of the matter, but I would have preferred the full $6 billion dollar judgment, especially since the music industry, at least in the US, always demands that infringers receive the fullest punishment the law allows.

Stay tuned.

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