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Music Entertainment

Canadian Music Industry Copyright Class Action Settled 99

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the too-big-to-pirate dept.
limber writes "The largest Canadian copyright class action suit has been settled for $50 million. The offenders? The four labels comprising the Canadian Recording Industry Association — EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music. Ahem." The terms of the settlement are a compromise — anyone with works on the pending list can receive compensation while the music industry is absolved of further liability. The two major Canadian licensing agencies (CMRRA and SODRAC) will be tasked with improving the licensing process to prevent future abuse.
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Canadian Music Industry Copyright Class Action Settled

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @01:51PM (#36299544) Journal

    The CRIA has had years to pay these artists. Why would they start now?

    Also notice how this is less than 1% of what the CRIA actually owes its artists. Settlements like this only encourage them to keep stiffing their artists.

    • The CRIA has had years to pay these artists.

      Which is difficult if the artist cannot be contacted.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        If the artist can't be contacted, they can't file a lawsuit either. I don't think we're talking about orphan works here.

        • If the artist can't be contacted, they can't file a lawsuit either.

          A copyright owner can be reclusive up until the moment that the copyright owner is ready to sue. Or a copyright owner can die or go out of business, and it might not be feasible to trace to whom the copyright has passed. Quick question: Who owns the copyright in Zero Wing, a 1989 scrolling shooter video game developed by Toaplan?

          • by smelch (1988698) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @02:46PM (#36300156)
            So I guess the thing to do would be to not sell works when it is unclear how to do so legally. Especially when you're constantly suing people for copyright infringement.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              Indeed. If you wish to claim that the current copyright law is morally just and should be supported then it's more than a little hypocritical to be the biggest abuser.

            • by tepples (727027)

              So I guess the thing to do would be to not sell works when it is unclear how to do so legally.

              In which case copyright is utterly failing "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts", as the constitution of Canada's neighbor to the south and west puts it.

          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>A copyright owner can be reclusive up until the moment that the copyright owner is ready to sue.

            That certainly sounds like a valid excuse. NOW - What excuse do you have for Canadian RIAA not paying artists like Celine Dion, Alanis Morisette, Sarah McLachlan, and so on? The truth is that RIAA didn't pay because they didn't want to pay. They wanted to use these songs on "Greatest Hits" and other compilation albums for free, rather than pay the wages due.

            i.e. They are the very "thieves" they

            • They wanted to use these songs on "Greatest Hits" and other compilation albums for free, rather than pay the wages due.

              What wages due? Are there standard rates for licensing the right to make and sell phonorecords of a three- to five-minute nondramatic musical sound recording? I thought mechanical licenses were only for the composition, not the recording. If an artist switched labels part-way through his or her career, it's possible that the artist's former label said "not at any price". Or an artist's former label may have been caught up in , leaving the copyright ownership of the artist's early recordings unclear. In this

          • If the artist can't be contacted, they can't file a lawsuit either.

            A copyright owner can be reclusive up until the moment that the copyright owner is ready to sue. Or a copyright owner can die or go out of business, and it might not be feasible to trace to whom the copyright has passed. Quick question: Who owns the copyright in Zero Wing, a 1989 scrolling shooter video game developed by Toaplan?

            Since you are defending their actions, I'd like a little clarification (a genuine request to get both sides of the equation).
            I assume you are not saying that it is okay to distribute works if you don't know who the copyright owner is.
            I also expect the distributers in question had these "products" in their portfolio. My misgivings are:
            I am not aware of Canadian law but here in Australia before someone can sue they have to make an attempt at getting the payment (letter of demand with accompanying documanta

          • by sconeu (64226)

            Who owns the copyright in Zero Wing, a 1989 scrolling shooter video game developed by Toaplan?

            I would assume that all your copyright are belong to us...

      • Re:Orphan works (Score:4, Insightful)

        by codegen (103601) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @03:11PM (#36300382) Journal

        Which is difficult if the artist cannot be contacted.

        Some of the artists on the list included Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen. Not exactly artists that are hard to find, that is if they bothered to try...

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Which is difficult if the artist cannot be contacted.

          Some of the artists on the list included Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen. Not exactly artists
          that are hard to find, that is if they bothered to try...

          The latter, at least, lives in New Jersey. They sent a courier with a cheque, but he turned back as he was afraid of getting a Snooki on him.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Fuck that. In many cases involved in this case, the artist involved is a relatively big name. Many cases of the abuse are to put out Top 20 compilations, etc. The record labels knew fucking well how to get in touch with the artists. They didn't simply because it would mean they'd have to actually pay them when they found them.

  • Not all good... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Posting anonymously from work...

    The two major Canadian licensing agencies (CMRRA and SODRAC) will be tasked with improving the licensing process to prevent future abuse.

    Why do I get the feeling that means, instead of "the CMRRA and SODRAC will ensure the music industry doesn't make this mistake again", as I'm sure they'd like us to believe, that actually equates to "the CMRRA and SODRAC will ensure stricter copyright legislation so that the music industry has an easier time of controlling things and screwing over people"?... Why do I get the feeling the music industry actually won and the people of Canada got screwed?...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Neither CMRRA nor SODRAC are governement bodies; they'll have to lobby MPs like all the other cabals to get their restrictions in place.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ecuador (740021) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @01:58PM (#36299632) Homepage

    So, for willfully and illegally selling 300,000 works, the recording companies paid just $50 million, or $166 per song. And careful, that is per song, NOT per copy! So they are most likely giving a fraction of their illegally gotten gains - forget about any punitive damages, they probably even get to keep a lot of the stolen money!
    Next time you are sharing a song online, make sure a) you make money of it b) you are a big corp.

    • by Whalou (721698)
      Especially b)...
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      This is news to you?
      If you commit a crime always go big. If your mom and pop shop dumps waste in the river you are going to jail, if you are union carbide all of Bhopal India can be your waste dump.

    • by dstyle5 (702493)
      I wonder if they will "pay" them in iTunes credits and free CDs like every other company that settles in class actions and pays with products instead of money. Or being a Canadian settlement perhaps the terms were Tim Horton's gift cards and Canadian Tire money.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @03:35PM (#36300656)

      It's not so much A as it is B. It would have been interesting had the damages been assessed similar to the Jamie Thomas verdict ($80,000 per song). $80,000 * 300,000 = $24 billion. I'd have loved to have seen them squirm over having to pay a $24 billion judgement against them and see them crying about how unfair it was and how it would bankrupt them. Granted, there wouldn't be any cognitive dissonance to burst. They really do think that infringement by the public should be punished by huge fines (and, I'm sure they'd love to add in, jail terms) while infringement by them should be punished by a vicious finger shaking and a fine not to exceed ten percent of the profits they made off of the infringement.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:18PM (#36301142)
      Comparison to:

      Limewire settlement: $10,808 per song, 65x more. 300,000 infringements -> $3.24 billion
      Joel Tenenbaum: $22,500 per song, 135x more. 300,000 infringements -> $6.75 billion
      Jammie Thomas-Rasset 2010: $62,500 per song, 375x more. 300,000 infringements -> $18.75 billion

      The scales of justice seem badly in need of calibration.
      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Could it be a Canadian settlement has something to do with this? After all, the Canadian dollar is now worth more than the US dollar, so some adjustment to your figures is required.

        It isn't like the US dollar is some kind of international standard any more.

        Besides, US music is probably worth less in Canada anyway.

        • by dryeo (100693)

          Just because the Canadian dollar has gone from 0.70 US$ to 1.03 US$ does not change the fact that we pay 30% more for American goods (before taxes).

  • Love this ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @02:06PM (#36299704) Homepage

    The record companies commit wholesale copyright infringement, and take the stance they should be allowed to do it and will settle the costs later.

    The rest of us download a fucking Brittany Spears song and they want to sue us for eleventy trillion dollars.

    I think it's time to start feeding recording executives to wild dogs -- they want draconian laws to make sure we can't do anything, but they just walk around them and pretend they didn't do anything wrong. Arrogant bastards.

    I've said it before, if they keep extending this "copyright levy" to everything under the sun, I'm going to start pirating on a large scale. I'm already paying for it, I might as well get my money's worth.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @02:18PM (#36299852)

      The rest of us download a fucking Brittany Spears song and they want to sue us for eleventy trillion dollars.

      To be fair, you need to be punished for downloading Britney Spears. And for spelling her name wrong.

      And I need to be punished for knowing you spelled it wrong...

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        To be fair, you need to be punished for downloading Britney Spears.

        Isn't hearing it punishment enough? Even if you don't listen to it, isn't the shame of possessing it punishment enough?

      • by idontgno (624372)

        And for spelling her name wrong.

        It's a reasonable mistake. That's the correct spelling for that other dog. [wikipedia.org]

        A perfectly understandable confusion.

      • by metacell (523607)

        The rest of us download a fucking Brittany Spears song and they want to sue us for eleventy trillion dollars.

        To be fair, you need to be punished for downloading Britney Spears. And for spelling her name wrong.

        And I need to be punished for knowing you spelled it wrong...

        By Brittany Spears. Covered in hot grits.

    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      The rest of us download a fucking Brittany Spears song and they want to sue us for eleventy trillion dollars.

      Isn't listening to Brittney Spears punishment enough?

    • That's my stance whenever they make noise about bringing the "mandatory copyright fees" to the US for everything (especially ISP bills). I don't pirate music, but if I'm going to be charged $5 a month in "just in case you are a copyright pirate" fees, I might as well become a copyright pirate. Those fees will create more pirates then they "cure" (for lack of a better word).

      • by metacell (523607)

        Shouldn't you be allowed to download legally if you pay a fee for it?

        • You would think so, but I'd be willing to bet that the RIAA/MPAA would want it both ways. They'd want to be able to go after those who share out music (keep it illegal) *AND* get money from people just in case they share/download music. As it is, they get money from the sales of "Music" CD-Rs (same as regular CD-Rs but with an added RIAA tax on them to guard against people using them for non-legal purposes) but still pursue lawsuits.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @02:08PM (#36299724) Homepage

    Every time the **AAs get up in front of government or the public to claim "support for the artists" this situation and others need to be brought up plainly and clearly. I know that like many here, those arguments made me laugh, then made me sick and now make me angry. They are simply lying with impunity on this matter and need to be taken to account. I would love for them to be questioned before the US congress to see if we can get some truth and/or perjury from them. That won't and can't happen fairly, though, as long as they are major contributors to both big parties and to nearly every elected official in office today.

  • RIPPED OFF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @02:20PM (#36299884) Journal

    50 million is a ripoff compared to the billions owed in backpay. That's equivalent to your boss saying, "I'll pay your $50 an hour," waiting years for your paycheck, and then he hands you a measly $5 an hour and says "Oops sorry." I would not have accepted it.

    Worse - Since there are lawyers involved, the 50 million will probably shrink to 20 million that has to be distributed amongst the ~1 million singers owed money.

    And these nonpaying a-holes in RIAA screw the singers, but they have the nerve to demand WE the customers pay for every single song we make a copy of - $1 if we download it, $1 if we burn it to a CD-R, $1 if we duplicate it across a 2nd PC, and so on.

    GRRRR.

    (I am a little bitter. Can you tell?)

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  • "The suit, which has not been given class action status..."

    Doesn't even the poster read TFA anymore?
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      It was a class action suit. This settlement immunizes them from further lawsuits. The first link is out of date. In 2009 it hadn't YET been granted class action status by a judge, but it was still a class action lawsuit even then, just not approved yet.
    • Did you read the *other* FA? There's two of them, and the one you're quoting is a year and a half old.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @03:12PM (#36300396) Homepage Journal

    Dear Canada,

          Please stop ending acronyms with an A. It's confusing. We don't know whether you're saying CMRReh, or whether its real name is CMRRA.

    And no, saying CMRRAeh doesn't help. There might, for all we know (not that we care - Ed) be a CMRRAA.

    Put it another way, how can you distinguish these guys [aaa.com] from these guys? [aa.com]

  • ~$6 billiion to ~$50 million, either there's a huge chunk of information missing, a large percentage of the represented class is going to opt out, or something is up. Obviously the vast majority of the class has no dire need for a short-changed payment, and can stand to sue individually, or as a group in order to get multiples of this settlement.

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