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Record Labels To Pay For Copyright Infringement 235

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 @06:21AM (#34834000)

    "let's try this illegal thing! Maybe we won't get caught and we can keep the 50 million. if we do, what harm?"

    It's a bit more insidious than that. This 50 million wasn't just sitting in a trash bag under the CEO's desk. It was out there, making interest. So they profited from their copyright infringement. Their punishment should be worse!

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:27AM (#34834022) Homepage Journal

    I currently buy all my music legally.

    This is making me reconsider, at least when buying music published by these douchebags.

  • by grimJester ( 890090 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:31AM (#34834036)
    You missed the obvious question: How on earth did the damages end up within 5% of what they had set aside? Using the per infringement figure, they set aside $167 and paid $158 when the statuatory damages [] range from $750 to $150,000? Wtf is going on here?
  • by Vitani ( 1219376 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:32AM (#34834050) Homepage
    INAL, but this could be a GOOD thing. Now when someone gets sued by the RIAA they can point to this case and say that they should only be paying the RIAA $167 per track, as per this example. They could perhaps even argue to pay less as they had no business interest in the infringement, unlike in this instance.
  • by grimJester ( 890090 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:40AM (#34834064)
    Obviously, they paid 2.5M for the lawyers. If this was budgeted from the start it explains why the figure "randomly" ended up being exactly 5% of the total set aside. This means the plaintiff's lawyers simply accepted the 47.5M the labels had set aside.
  • Reality Check Please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzTech ( 524154 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:47AM (#34834088)

    Excuse me. I [b]must[/b] be missing something here!

    They set-aside $50 Million to "cover this". This implies they [b]knew[/b] they were doing something wrong!
    They were fines $47.5 Million.

    If I'm not mistaken, they just made a @2.5 Million [i]profit[/i] from the deal!

  • by pinkushun ( 1467193 ) * on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @06:50AM (#34834108) Journal

    The artists involved should sue to leave the record labels, under breach of contract. Then only might the record labels break a sweat and start thinking what they did wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:23AM (#34834256)

    And especially dead artists!

    I have absolutely no respect for companies like Sony that have in their libraries huge quantities of pd music performed by great artists like Wilhelm Kempf, Karl Bohm, Lenard Bernstein, George Szell etc, etc...and on and on. Here they are not making it available to willing buyers and just sitting on it like a bunch of trolls at a bridge stopping travelers through the world of classical music.

    This is why it is almost impossible for new classical artists to break through anymore. There is no way for plebs to experience great classical music as there was during the heydays of the 1960-70s when you could by classical lps just about anywhere..including low end stores like K-Mart, or Sears!

    This greedy amoral cartel has absolutely no respect for the legacy of great music that is part of our heritage and deserve to be taken apart and given a financial drubbing for their behaviour!

    I speak as a grieving Old_Flatulent classical musician that hopes eventually the corrupt entertainment industry system that stops great artists from blooming will eventually die.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:35AM (#34834298) Homepage

    In cases like this sometimes I wonder if it's beyond that, that the company and the class action lawyers collude to screw the class. That they purposely get themselves sued by "friendly" lawyers who settle for peanuts so they have legal immunity from everyone who didn't opt out of the class. Mass commercial copyright violation sounds more like a federal crime worthy of prison time than this.

  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @09:22AM (#34834774)

    What should have happened is, the MafiAA corps should have been forcibly disbanded, assets sold, and all singers and songwriters released from their slave-labor contracts [].

    The double upside there is that we could get rid of the MafiAA companies and destroy the Payola system that still strangleholds music radio today. Maybe we'd have some real radio stations that would do things like play local artists, new acts simply because they like the sound, or even spin entire albums now and again.

    Of course, we should probably reinstitute the media ownership limits. In 1995 there were over 5000 independent radio station companies, by 1997 five companies controlled 95% of the radio market.

  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:11AM (#34835082) Journal

    Don't we have an awesome new precedent though for the next file share case?

    Jammie's Appeal through counsel:
    "Your honor, given this new information, I ask for her damages to be reduced to $4000."

    Especially since there was no wishy-washy "making available" stuff - these were raw Sold, and not by any third party, but by the originators of the modern concept of copyright.

    Can we PLEASE close out this era of mega-suits?

  • by dogsbreath ( 730413 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:37AM (#34835930)

    IANAL but in Canada, suing for damages is a bit different from the US... my understanding is that damages awards for loss have to be consistent with actual, concrete, demonstrable loss. I know that these things get complex and follow some convoluted paths, at least to the non-lawyers, but I was given this example. Say I offer to sell you a car at $1000 less than the going rate and you accept but before you come over to pay and collect the vehicle, I sell the car to someone else. You can sue me for damages but you are basically limited to the $1000 difference between the going rate and my original offer to sell. Now that's straight damages. I don't believe there are any statutory damages for copyright.

    Bill C32 I think, changes that. It introduces American style "statutory" damages with a minimum per instance (er... $100 non-commercial and $200 commercial) for copyright violations. The maximums are much higher ($5000 for commercial). The Bill has passed second reading, still needs third reading and to pass in the senate. It is not yet in force: []

    So... you have to think that there is some house-cleaning going on. Currently, the damages would be limited to actual license costs plus possibly legal fees, hence the ability for the association to set aside an exact amount for the settlement. They have been thinking about this for a long time.

    I believe that the industry association has a vested interest to get this matter out of the way in prep for the passing of C32, which could push the damages up significantly, as high as $1.5 Billion. I would also be suspicious that the Heritage Minister is involved here somewhere and strong armed the artists to accept the industry settlement so that Bill C32 could be put into place without any embarassing fallout. The argument would be that C32 is good for the artists so accept this and be done with it. I think that everyone involved in the settlement is doing the ol' nod nod wink wink.

    There has been a long running difference in view between Heritage Canada (artists, er... proponent of blank CD/DVD surcharges) and Industry Canada (resp. for telecom, ISPs, etc and traditionally against making ISPs etc responsible for infringing data transmission). I would bet money that the two ministries have been settling differences behind the scenes and in cabinet. This "settlement" is just one item on a long list of to-do items that are part of aligning Canadian copyright law with American law. I am not saying there is conspiracy but there is an expected amount of co-ordination and deal making within the Conservative party cabinet. Okay.... maybe it IS a conspiracy ;->

    One thing is for certain: a lot of shit has been going on behind the scenes in this story.

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