Massive $6bn lawsuit for repeated breaches of music copyright

Defendants in Canada are facing an eye-watering $6 billion payout in a court case over repeated breaches of music copyright over several years. Claims for unpaid royalties total $50 million, but on top of that the defendants face having to pay $20,000 for each copyrighted song which has been used without payment. Records show that the total number of such songs is more than 300,000.

Although the songs involved have easily identified copyright owners who would happily accept payment and who are paid by other law abiding users of their music, no such payments have been made in the case of the defendants.

It is just this sort of widespread abuse of music copyright rules which show why some in the music industry are arguing for a tough crackdown on …

Oh. Hang on. Wait a minute.

Ah yes, let’s see. The defendants in this case, who are accused of repeatedly failing to pay up for the use of other people’s songs?

That’d be Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada.

Ooops indeed.

Perhaps it’s a good thing they don’t have a “three strikes and you’re out” law of the sort the big music firms want in the UK. Because if they did, the big four Canadian music firms could find themselves banned from the internet.

(More details of the case here, including an explanation of what would be quite a sensible licensing scheme that allows people to use music without too much bureaucracy whilst also ensuring that the composers and performers get paid. At least, it would be a sensible licensing scheme if the big music firms didn’t repeatedly fail to pay up.)

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One Comment

  • Andrew Suffield 18th Dec '09 - 3:04pm

    Nothing new here, we all know who the real thieves are. The contracts those people use shouldn’t be legal either (along with the tactics they use to force people to sign them – it’s not something any creator would accept if they had a choice).

    I suppose it explains why they’re begging our government for a handout.

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