Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The plaintiffs become the defendants

You won't find this news nugget anywhere in the major news media outlets, which is a shame.

As reported by Michael Geist (excerpt): "The four major record labels that comprise the Canadian Recording Industry Association (EMI / Sony / Universal / Warner) have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit (one of the largest copyright class action lawsuits in Canadian history). This will cost the CRIA $45 million. With the music industry going on about how piracy is bad, you're going to love this. They're one of the biggest pirates around.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2008. Artists decided to turn to the courts following decades of frustration with the rampant infringement. The claims arise from a longstanding practice of the recording industry in Canada, described in the lawsuit as "exploit now, pay later if at all." This involves the use of music included in things like compilation CDs (ie. Dance 2009). The record labels create, press, distribute, and sell the CDs, but do not obtain the necessary copyright licences as spelled out in copyright law.

Instead, the names of the songs on the CDs are placed on a "pending list", which signifies that approval and payment is pending. The pending list dates back to the late 1980s, when Canada changed its copyright law by replacing a compulsory licence with the need for specific authorization for each use of a song. You could say it's a copyright infringement admission list, as the record label admits that it has not obtained copyright permission and not paid any royalty or fee."

As Cory Doctorow from BoingBoing said, "The press release indicates that everyone is pleased with the settlement, though it is striking that it took a class action settlement to get the record labels to address their own ongoing copyright infringing practices in paying artists for the use of their works.

Note that record labels in the CRIA are the same multinational, US-centric cartel that runs music around the world. They're "Canadian" in the same sense that the members of Tony Soprano's "Businessmen's Club" are businessmen."

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