The largest copyright pirates are the large corporations, particularly in the content distribution business. Yes, those companies who scream the loudest that their customers are ‘pirating’ movies, songs, books, etc. In this series, we are going to look at cases where these companies have engaged in large scale copyright infringement, or in other ways have been ripping off artists.
In all cases I will be working with published information. It is possible that this information may not be up to date, or may not accurately reflect the current status of the situation. If I am supplied documentary evidence which shows a different status, I will publish an update. In cases where a lawsuit ensued, and the settlement was sealed, I will not update the published information, unless I am provided with:
1) A copy of the settlement
2) Permission to publish the settlement
While I realize this may cause problems for one or more of the parties involved, I believe in only publishing things I can reference, so that those who read this have an evidence trail to follow.
Note that the above text will appear in every article, if you’ve read it once, feel free to skip down to the divider.
I need to thank Barry Sookman. Barry is the sole inspiration for my Corporate Copyright Scofflaws series of posts. It was about a year ago that Barry posted his article Geist inflates pending lists claim to vilify record labels, which inspired my article Sookman Deflates Pending Lists Claim to Vilify Artists. And it got me thinking about all of the corporate rip off artists, and how the corporations were damaging the arts by ripping off artists, and seven days later I published the first of the Corporate Copyright Scofflaws series.
So thank you Barry, I really appreciated the inspiration!
Which brings us back to the Pending List action, which technically wasn’t a part of the series, because I wrote about it before the series existed.
The record companies in Canada had been using the so called ‘Pending List’ to avoid paying artists. They will claim that this was never their intent, however any reasonable observer would have trouble reaching any other conclusion.
So finally a class action lawsuit was filed. And on Monday January 10, 2010, a press release was issued saying that an agreement has been reached.
But let’s take a look at exactly what they said.
“The major record labels are to be commended for their efforts in resolving this matter,” said Jon Foreman, a partner at Harrison Pensa LLP and co-counsel for the plaintiff. “This agreement reflects the respect the major record labels have for their unpaid rights holders. This is a very good result for songwriters and music publishers.”
Translation: We had to sue the bastards to get them to do anything. The only thing that the labels respect is a Pit Bull cross bred with a Lawyer.
“This is a very positive outcome for all parties,” said Graham Henderson, President, Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), on behalf of EMI Music Canada, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. “I commend the counsel representing rights holders and the major record labels for their constructive approach in reaching an agreement and their diligence in working through highly complex issues.”
Translation: Holy shit, they damned near got us for some real cash. We’ll be a lot more careful next time we try to rip someone else off.
“In this case, copyright owners have been well-served by a timely and reasonable resolution of a complex problem. We look forward to the distribution of the outstanding payments in accordance with the settlement,” said plaintiff’s counsel Paul Bates of Bates Barristers.
Translation: If they don’t pay up on time, we’ll have them back in court so damned fast that their heads will be spinning.
Curiouser And Curiouser
I sent out a bunch of emails asking for comment as soon as I saw the press release this morning. Curiously I didn’t get one response. Not one. Now several of the people I sent emails too are known to be nearly as loud mouthed as I am. No, change that. These people are more loud mouthed than I am, and they aren’t willing to say anything.
Now admittedly none of the people I emailed were directly involved in the case. But all of them are involved in copyright, and none of them had at the time that I sent out the emails made any statement.
No, I’m not going to name names. But just think. Some of these are people have never seen a microphone that they didn’t like. And they won’t say a damned thing.
Agreed the deal isn’t final yet, until the judge approves it. But…
So, this starts me thinking. Maybe I’m adding two plus two and getting fifteen, but something here doesn’t smell right. Something doesn’t smell right at all.
The settlement documents are public. That in itself is unusual. Me being me, I’ve grabbed copies, and I suggest that you do the same. Besides, just think of all the interesting reading…
Settlement Documents – these are direct links to the documents on the site of Harrison Pensa LLP:
Settlement Agreement with Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc.
Settlement Agreement with EMI Music Canada Inc.
Settlement Agreement with Universal Music Canada Inc.
Settlement Agreement with Warner Music Canada Co.
Settlement Agreement with CMRRA and SODRAC
Amendment to the Settlement Agreement with CMRRA and SODRAC
Court Approved Notice of Certification and Settlement Approval Hearing (English)
Court Approved Notice of Certification and Settlement Approval Hearing (French)
Press Release dated January 10, 2011 (English)
Press Release dated January 10, 2011 (French)
So grab them, and enjoy them.
And watch out for more Corporate Copyright Scofflaw posts in the year to come.
Monday January 10, 2011