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Record Labels To Pay For Copyright Infringement 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the of-pots-and-kettles dept.
innocent_white_lamb writes "Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., EMI Music Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. have agreed to pay songwriters and music publishers $47.5 million in damages for copyright infringement and overdue royalties to settle a class action lawsuit. 'The 2008 class action alleges that the record companies "exploited" music owners by reproducing and selling in excess of 300,000 song titles without securing licenses from the copyright owners and/or without paying the associated royalty payments. The record companies knowingly did so and kept a so-called "pending list" of unlicensed reproductions, setting aside $50 million for the issue, if it ever arose, court filings suggest.'"
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Record Labels To Pay For Copyright Infringement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @05:20AM (#34833998)

    From this I understand that I can now download as many mp3s as I want as long as I put aside 69c per mp3 downloaded in case I am ever asked to pay the full price.

    Excellent! Kudos to the music companies for setting us straight on this issue.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @05:30AM (#34834030) Journal
    Well, yes. although I will point out this is Canadian law which is a little less insane.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:09AM (#34834190)

    Why would the class settle for less than the minimum statutory penalty?

    Because class action lawsuits are primarily for the benefit of the lawyers, not the class members. This way, the lawyers get a big payout without actually having to do any work. And the musicians get screwed yet again.

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:33AM (#34834290)

    It's unclear to me to what extent there was any actual infringement. As I understand it, the artists agreed to have the CMRRA represent their interests with regard to licencing their work. The CMRRA then set up an agreement that allowed the recording companies to use a work and pay for it later. Which they never did.

    It may be that proving infringement in court would be difficult due to the existing agreement. Probably, it would be more like a breach of contract. It's tough to know what case could have been made for infringement, but it certainly would be a tough legal battle. Too bad, that would have been very, very fun to watch.

  • by Mouldy (1322581) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:57AM (#34834388)
    Probably not. It was settled outside of courts, so AFAIK, you can't use that in other court cases.
  • by anti-pop-frustration (814358) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:48AM (#34834600) Journal
    You don't understand, there are two kinds of copyright infringement.

    The commercial one, in which benevolent publicly-traded corporations profit form the work of unpaid artists and the evil non-commercial kind, performed by individuals, which doesn't generate any profit at all.

    The non commercial one is of course far more immoral and dangerous to society, and it should be punished to the full extent of the law (in this case $1,920,000 in statutory damages [wikimedia.org] for sharing 24 songs).

    Remember kids, when you download MP3s, you're downloading communism!
  • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:56AM (#34834626) Homepage Journal

    Why should the policies of the Recording Industry Association of America have an effect on Canadian justice?

  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @08:35AM (#34834848) Homepage

    It's more or less the actual amount owed to the artists for licencing. They claimed they couldn't pay it out because they couldn't identify the artists on the pending list, but of course they didn't try very hard. The class action suit merely convinced them that it was simpler to just turn over the owed money as a settlement (presumably keeping the interest) to the plaintiffs, rather than identifying and paying the individual artists.

    They're cleared of all liability and they've agreed to try a little harder next time, but there are no damages, statutory or otherwise. They're paying out only the owed royalties, just delayed for a few years (would've been indefinitely, but they got called on it).

  • by I8TheWorm (645702) * on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:19AM (#34835754) Journal

    Deregulating the radio industry was a horrible mistake that sounded like a good idea at the time (and I was far from a Clinton fan). You're right... it's all Clear Channel and a handful of others. There are still a few nice indie stations (great one in New Braunfels that I can pick up sometimes) but it's not like it was.

    When I was in Nashville in the late 90s, Clear Channel was driving the reduction in playlist size as well. Not only were artists and songwriters getting cut out, it was getting more difficult to get radio play (where songwriters and artists get a few pennies per play).

    The numbers in that article don't jibe very well though. Only idiot bands and previous megahit makers spend that kind of money recording an album. And the numbers get that high because of catering and nightlife. In 1998, AFM scale for each musician for a single song was $50, while some of the top earners for session work were getting $300. Currently scale can be up to about 3 times that (it varies from region to region, and some are still as low as 1998 numbers), but it's laddered based on amout of performance. Engineers made about $70/hr, and the studio got that much as well.

    The typical manager cut is 10% or less, unless again the band is made up of idiots that are way too excited about getting a major deal to actually read the contract. However, it leaves out the agent/promoter cut too, which is 10% or less. It's not exactly a wash though, because that's only for live shows.

    However, with all of the money needed to record and distribute, the band typically doesn't make a dime off of CDs until about 1MM in sales.

    On the road though, the band does pretty well. Again, using 1998 numbers, the Dixie Chicks were making a minimum of $400k per show. They traveled with their own trucks, lights, sound equipment, etc... so a large portion of that went to putting it all together. However, at the end of the night, they were likely splitting about $60k between the three of them. Bands of less notoriety typically have a backline setup as part of the rider. Also, equipment manufacturers are very easy to get B endorsements (items at cost) out of, and fairly easy to get A endorsements (free stuff) out of if the band has any radio play at all.

    The band has to pay for travel expenses, but rarely if at all pays for hotels and meals. Again, AFM scale was $50 per show in town, $200 per show out of town, with a $35/day per diem. That also hasn't changed much.

    Artists these days make their money on the road, and produce CDs to drive the butts to the seats. And they can make a pretty nice living at it. The recording industry (outside of self and indie labels) is a sham.

    And on Payola, Sony learned a long time ago the fines for getting caught were nothing compared to the amount of $$ they made by pushing their artists onto the radio. Give harsher penalties and they might reconsider.

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @03:34PM (#34839486)

    Precedents usually have to come from the same country...

    IANAL. We don't have mass lawsuits in Canada like they do in the US. This isn't to say that the CRIA didn't try, but when they experimentally sued their first 29 filesharers in 2004, the judge (who incidentally is now chairperson of our telecoms regulator, the CRTC) ruled against their request for disclosure of the identities of the alleged fileshares. The cases then obviously were dead in the water, and I don't believe any have been filed since.

    If you're interested in the reasons why the judge rejected the CRIA's request, the reasons why the request violated the rules established for such disclosures were:

    1) The CRIA had hired a third party company, MediaSentry, to do the investigations, and the affadavit alleging evidence of infringement was signed by the president of this company, rather than the employees who did the investigation. As such, alleged evidence was hearsay, and not admissible.

    2) MediaSentry had employed decoy music files, but did not verify that the alleged infringers had downloaded the actual songs in question and not the decoys, which they weren't being sued for. As such, no evidence was provided that the files in question were even the plaintiff's infringed files.

    3) The CRIA alleged that the infringement was performed by various Kazaa usernames, but provided no evidence as to how they associated these usernames to the IPs for which they were seeking discovery. As such, there is no evidence that the IP was involved in the infringement.

    4) The copyright act states that reproduction of an audio recording for private use by the copier does not constitute copyright infringement, and so the alleged downloading of the MP3 files did not constitute copyright infringement

    5) No evidence was provided that the alleged infringers had distributed or authorized the reproduction of the files, merely that they had placed personal copies in a location that was accessible to others, and this does not constitute copyright infringement. Others accessing the accessible files is not copyright infringement, the user must take a positive act of sending the files themselves.

    6) The CRIA alleged secondary infringement, but didn't even try to establish knowledge on the part of the defendants

    7) The lawsuits were filed long after the infringement was alleged to have taken place (about a year), and retrieving the information requested (contact info of the person using the IP at the time) over such a long period of time was not practical or reasonable, and quite likely not even possible. Furthermore, the contact info of the account holder that owned the IP is not necessarily the same as the person who committed the infringement on the computer.

    8) The great length of time between the alleged infringement and the filing of the lawsuit causes privacy concerns to outweigh the copyrights of the plaintiffs, since they gave no reason as to why they waited so long. I think the idea here was that clearly the damage caused wasn't terribly important since they waited so long.

    The ruling in the end denies the CRIA's motion, and granted costs to the ISPs who participated. So the CRIA's attempt to try mass lawsuits US-style imploded in a spectacular manner. Without major changes to Canadian law, such lawsuits are impossible.

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