Labels failed to pay artists and face a dose of their own lawsuit medicine
A class action lawsuit in Canada could cost EMI, Warner Music, Sony Music and Universal Music as much as $6 billion in unpaid royalties and penalties.
Michael Geist is reporting that a class action lawsuit on behalf of major and minor artists seeks to get paid royalties the RIAA members know they owe but refuse to pay.
This is ironic considering the lawsuits by the RIAA claiming it is protecting the artists income. Apparently not since the artists claim they have not been paid for music sold in Canada.
Chet Baker, an dead and jazz artist is owed $50 million. Also in the unpaid column are Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Cockburn, and Sloan.
The record companies are allowed in Canada to issue compilation or re-release albums and CDs without getting copyright clearance. They put the artist in a pending bucket and are supposed to pay them later.
Later never came and the RIAA members kept stalling. The class action suit claims $20,000 per song on which the copyrights have not been paid.
The more likely reason is that the record labels have had little motivation to pay up. As the balance has grown, David Basskin, the president and CEO of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd., notes in his affidavit that “the record labels have devoted insufficient resources for identifying and paying the owners of musical works on the pending lists.” The CRIA members now face the prospect of far greater liability.
After years of claiming Canadian consumers disrespect copyright, the irony of having the recording industry face a massive lawsuit will not be lost on anyone, least of all the artists still waiting to be paid. Indeed, they are also seeking punitive damages, arguing “the conduct of the defendant record companies is aggravated by their strict and unremitting approach to the enforcement of their copyright interests against consumers.” Geist: Record industry faces liability over `infringement’