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Artist Managers Demand RIAA Shares Settlement Money

Artist Managers Demand RIAA Shares Settlement Money

7 years after Napster, 2 years after KaZaA, and 1 year after Bolt, music artists have yet to see a cut from the money intended to compensate them for the damages these services allegedly caused.

There’s a storm brewing among artist managers angry over what it sees as the usual theft of money owed to their clients by greedy record executives. For 7 years after Napster, 2 years after KaZaA, and 1 year after Bolt, music artists have yet to see a cut from the money intended to compensate them for the damages these services allegedly caused.

It was back in 2001 that Napster settled for some $270 million USD to satisfy infringement claims by the record industry. KaZaA would later settle for some $130.7 million in 2006, and for around $30 million last year.

So it begs the question, "Where’d all this money go?" One would naturally assume that it’d automatically go to those music artists whose work was alleged to have been infringed upon, but you’d wrong it seems. For record label sources say that execs are having a tough time figuring out how best to divvy up the money since not everyone’s music was infringed upon equally. Dr Dre, for instance, should get a bigger cut than Camper Van Bethoven. This is apparently the argument that has perplexed for the last 7 years and counting since Napster cried uncle back in 2001.

Artist managers are tiring of the delay and in some cases are considering legal action to force record labels to release the settlement money to the actual "victims" of the whole illegal file-sharing affair.

"Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for," said lawyer John Branca, who has represented Korn, Don Henley, and The Rolling Stones, among others.

"Some of them are even talking about filing lawsuits if they don’t get paid soon."

They may be in for a big disappointment it seems since the same sources who spoke of the turmoil also said that much of the money was spent on legal expenses. The RIAA never fails to live up to its reputation does it?

But, Branca doesn’t buy it. He doesn’t believe that the RIAA could’ve blown that an estimated $430 million USD plus on legal expenses.

"The record labels are experts at transferring money around and putting the onus on artists managers to find it," he continued.

Another manager agreed.

"They will play hide and seek, but eventually will be forced to pay something," said Irving Azoff, who manages The Eagles and Jewel among others. "The record companies have even tried to credit unrecouped accounts. It’s never easy for an artist to get paid their fair share."

To be fair, EMI, Warner Music, and Universal Music, all said they were already sharing or in the process of sharing the settlement money, but if that’s the case then why is the guy who represents the Rolling Stones for heavens sake saying he’s never seen a dime?

EMI says that its "sharing proceeds from the Napster and KaZaA settlements with artists and writers whose work was infringed upon" and Warner Music said it too "is sharing the Napster settlement with its recording artists and songwriters and at this stage nearly all settlement monies have been disbursed." Lastly, Universal Music said its policy "is to share its portion of various settlements with its artists, regardless of whether their contracts require it."

So who’s telling the truth? Something tells me it’s not the record labels since they’ve never done so before.

[TF via NYPost]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus

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