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Canadian Recording Industry Faces $6 Billion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

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Monday December 07, 2009
Chet Baker was a leading jazz musician in the 1950s, playing trumpet and providing vocals. Baker died in 1988, yet he is about to add a new claim to fame as the lead plaintiff in possibly the largest copyright infringement case in Canadian history.  His estate, which still owns the copyright in more than 50 of his works, is part of a massive class-action lawsuit that has been underway for the past year.

As my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes, the infringer has effectively already admitted owing at least $50 million and the full claim could exceed $6 billion. If the dollars don’t shock, the target of the lawsuit undoubtedly will: The defendants in the case are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada, the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

The CRIA members were hit with the lawsuit [PDF] in October 2008, after artists decided to turn to the courts following decades of frustration with the rampant infringement (I am adviser to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, which is co-counsel, but have had no involvement in the case). 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."  It involves the use of works that are often included in compilation CDs (ie. the top dance tracks of 2009) or live recordings. The record labels create, press, distribute, and sell the CDs, but do not obtain the necessary copyright licences.

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. It is perhaps better characterized as a copyright infringement admission list, however, since for each use of the work, the record label openly admits that it has not obtained copyright permission and not paid any royalty or fee.

Over the years, the size of the pending list has grown dramatically, now containing over 300,000 songs. From Beyonce to Bruce Springsteen, the artists waiting for payment are far from obscure, as thousands of Canadian and foreign artists have seen their copyrights used without permission and payment.

It is difficult to understand why the industry has been so reluctant to pay its bills.  Some works may be in the public domain or belong to a copyright owner difficult to ascertain or locate, yet the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Cockburn, Sloan, or the Watchmen are not hidden from view.

The more likely reason is that the record labels have had little motivation to pay up.  As the balance has grown to over $50 million (Universal alone owes more than $30 million), 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 to identifying and paying the owners of musical works on the Pending Lists." Basskin adds that some labels believe addressing the issue would be "an unproductive use of their time."

Having engaged in widespread copyright infringement for over 20 years, the CRIA members now face the prospect of far greater liability.  The class action seeks the option of statutory damages for each infringement.  At $20,000 per infringement (the amount owed on some songs exceed this amount), potential liability exceeds $6 billion.  These numbers may sound outrageous, yet they are based on the same rules that has led the recording industry to claim a single file sharer is liable for millions in damages.

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."

Update: An earlier version of this post noted that record label liability could exceed $60 billion in this case.  A reader helpfully noted the math gremlin - the correct number is $6 billion ($20,000 per infringement X 300,000 songs). Toronto Star correction is here.

Comments (104)add comment

Greg said:

Can I get a "hallelujah"???
December 07, 2009

Andrew Butash said:

Bwahahahahaha. Oh you hypocritical sacks of shit! That is some seriously delicious irony on this dreary Monday morning. :) Oh please, oh please, let this go all the way and hit them hard...
December 07, 2009

Haggus said:

Isn't that an interesting little chestnut. :)
December 07, 2009

Jack Oatmon said:

All the more evidence that current copyright laws are not serving either the consumer nor the recording industry. On the one hand this is really awful in some ways, but you can't help enjoying the poetic justice of it.
December 07, 2009

Adi said:

Sweeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet Karma
Oh how sweet you taste on this Monday morning ! I can't believe the recording labels allowed this to drag for so long.. I mean, now that the general media and the Canadian population already has a perceived bad image of the CRIA and its labels, this will only add to it eve more and lower their chances of winning this lawsuit.

I hope they lose and that they get to pay up those 60 billion $ to the deserving artists.

December 07, 2009

Laurel L. Russwurm said:

I am... agog

Go for the punitive damages! Yes!

These corporations have been pushing to criminalize people for personal use copying while they are themselves BOOTLEGGING. No wonder they are concentrating on non-commercial "infringements". I certainly hope that Mr. Clement and Mr. Moore are noting this perfect example of why copyright reform is necessary.


December 07, 2009

Brian said:

Jack Oatmon: copyright laws are serving the recording industry, just nobody else
Jack Oatmon said:
> All the more evidence that current copyright laws are not serving either the consumer nor the
> recording industry

Jack, current copyright laws are serving the "recording industry" (i.e. the labels) just fine. It's the consumers and the *artists* that are being screwed by them.

What's really sad about it all is that the "recording industry" is the only party involved here that is really unnecessary to the supply chain anymore and they are the ones screwing everyone over.

Artists need to learn that they can reach their customers without being bent over a barrel by the recording industry and being buggered deep and hard. The recording industry needs to be put out of business, legitimately, and consumers need to be "obtaining" (whether that be by purchase or legal free distribution) their music directly from their artists.

I recall an analysis that was done of some fairly successful band's (I wish I could recall the band's name) free download experiment. Their goal was to see if they could subvert the torrenting of their release by making it freely available on their website. That experiment was a failure and people just continued to do what they know how to do, which is torrent, rather than learning this new process of going to the band's website to get the album (no surprise there -- people always migrate towards what they know how to do rather than having to learn something new).

But the surprise from the experiment was how many new fans got introduced to the band's music because they were willing to take (and end up enjoying -- albeit "on spec") for free what they would have not otherwise been willing to pay for and the benefit of that for the band was the new fans that wanted to go see them perform live.

If we believe one aspect of the music industry rhetoric, that being that record labels take most of the profit from the sales of recordings and share little if it with the artists -- instead leaving the artists to make their money on touring -- the best thing an artist can do for their own profitability is to ditch the record company, thereby lowering the barrier to obtaining new fans from $15 per fan to free and see that many more faces at their shows each of which is paying nearly $100/seat to enjoy them live.

Could that be the new music industry business model? I bet the record labels are greatly in fear of it and acting accordingly.
December 07, 2009

Pat said:

all i can say is.... wellllllllllll their team lost.
December 07, 2009

John said:

MG's Revelation of the Year
This is the best thing to be revealed on this blog in the past year. Absolutely hilarious.
December 07, 2009

Luke said:

I'm not an infringer...
...my iTunes library is just my "pending list." I'll get around to paying everyone eventually... I promise.
December 07, 2009

Matthew Skala said:

Luke: that might actually be the best possible resolution. Clearing permissions is hard, and sometimes impossible. Preventing people from making reasonable use of copyrighted work until after they clear permissions, is unreasonable. If the labels argue that they should be allowed to continue doing this, and win - but then consumers get the same benefit - it would both serve the labels right, and bring our copyright regime marginally closer to reflecting reality.
December 07, 2009

Eric L. said:

What a wonderful feeling this story gives.

I can't wait to see what that troll Bob Morris has to say.
December 07, 2009

Anon-K said:

The math...
Why would they do it? Look at the math. What would be the cost of tracking down the copyright owners and actually coming to an agreement with them? What is the chances of them having to pay out if they wait for the owner to come after them? Let's say that the payout to an owner is $1000, and that the chances the owner is going to come after them is 25%... so the expected payout is $250 per song. If it costs more to track them down and pay them (let's say a total of $1010), then they simply don't pay and wait for the owner to come after them. On one hand they have an expected average payout of $250, on the other $1010... basic economics. If it cost them $1025 (between the actual royalty, the punitive damages and court costs) to wait and see, then they'd pay up front, as it costs less overall.

The best one was, in the US, when the RIAA threatened people with lawsuits for songs which the RIAA didn't even hold the rights to.

Of course, as Adi mentioned above, the karma is great. Is it bad karma to take enjoyment in the misery of another like this?
December 07, 2009

Oh My said:

What comes around goes around
I can't wait to read the Conference Board of Canada report on this. I wonder who will write it under someone else name & fund it? :p

I wonder if they will lose their internet in Canada or elsewhere?

TY for the news. This made me laugh.
December 07, 2009

Ryan said:

Brian (above) is drinking the anarchist/technocratw Kool Aid.

Sir, can you name even one act that charges $100/seat and is without a record label (or, in the case of someone like Prince, isn't the product of the old system)? As for new artists, I'll spell this out for you: "You can't get there from here".

I'm no major label advocate (I've been in a couple of protracted legal disputes, as an artist, with big labels on both sides of the border); but I reject out of hand as ludicrous, on the basis of my experience, your claim that the business of music requires no middle man or institutional infrastructure. Hey, I'd like to be wrong. But I'm not.

Artists with any significant experience in this process (and anyone else who's ever made a consistent living in this industry) know that it's virtually impossible to reach fans and build a career without making substantial investments in expensive media strategies (new or old). And 99% of artists don't have the money to fund these endeavors. Sure, you could swap third parties, and substitute, say, venture capitalists or software companies for record labels. But that's not what you've suggested. And regardless, such a swap would likely be a case of 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss'.
December 07, 2009

Click170 said:

First off, Geist dude, you've got _way_ to many scripts on your site. I count 9 separate sources! Take it down a notch.

Secondly, I love the story, perfect pick me up for a Monday morning. But... I can't help thinking there's something missing. What you've written certainly raises spirits, and does look bad for them, but whats their (the recording industry's) perspective on this?
They can't really be thinking "Oh well we have a pending list, thats good enough".
What's their legal defence going to be? "Oh we forgot"?
I have a hard time believing that they'd actually try and use that as a legal defence.
Is there some clause in Canadian copyright law they're going to tote out as a technicality or something?
I'm not saying they're _good_ businessmen, but it takes an idiot of astronomical proportions to allow their company to slowly and knowingly tie a 60$ billion dollar noose around their own neck and jump off of the barrel. Not that it hasn't been done before...
December 07, 2009

crade said:

Hey Ryan,

You will find once the big labels finish collapsing, the replacements will be much more realistic. Software companies are not like record labels. They do not (would not) take over the copyrights from the creators. The cost of developing and maintaining software is low (especially simple software to market and sell stuff online). The competition is fierce as can be. The reality is that the musicians are the biggest contributors and should receive proportional compensation.
December 07, 2009

huzur79 said:

HA! Love it
At the end of the day this will prob end up being a 200 million dollar settlement, there is no way any Canadian Court is going to award 60 billion in damages, I suspect it will be high to start, such as 1 Billion but years of appeals will drop it down to something in the hundreds of millions. They prob expected a lawsuit one day and calculated that it would be cheaper to be sued then to actually pay for the music they are using. What would be sad is if they only get a small fine of a couple million because it would just prove some times its cheaper to cheat then to be honest.

What im looking forward to is there defense and if successful in anyway at reducing the damages per song from 20 000 to something tiny, the potential for consumers to use that defense and the precedent in this case to validate there defense to stick it to them even more.

Either way its nice to see them on the other end of the chair for once. They still don’t realize they are the ones killing there own businesses with absorbent prices, and ridiculous rules and draconis practices.
December 07, 2009

Ryan Henson Creighton said:

Too Much Joy
i'm cross-posting between this article and one by a member of the 90's band Too Much Joy, because this is the happy ending to that fascinating but bleak article. Reading this makes Michael's article taste so, so much sweeter:

December 07, 2009

maebnoom said:

I've downloaded a bunch of music via P2P.

It's all on my "pending list" - don't worry, it's all legit.

PS: crade - well said.
December 07, 2009

Nate said:

Is the list online
Is it possible to get a copy of the pending list? I know a few artists that might be on there...
December 07, 2009

Name said:

So they Pwned the rights, not Owned!
So, labels Pwned artists' rights, and are now being Pwned by them. Nice karma, indeed.
December 07, 2009

Philip Hunt said:

Hoist by their own petard!
December 07, 2009

Rick said:

Bring Dante back from the dead. Have him create an even deeper level of 'Inferno' for these bastards. They're turning into the likes of Marie Antoinette. With possibly the same fate in store.
December 07, 2009

Mr. X said:

Taste of Their Own Medicine
This is the best copyright news I've heard in a long time. By the time this is over, the plaintiffs will end up owning all these record labels.
December 07, 2009

Wilson said:

Adi said:
"now that the general media and the Canadian population already has a perceived bad image of the CRIA and its labels, this will only add to it even more and lower their chances of winning this lawsuit."

I sincerely hope that that last is not the case. The day that court cases are decided by public opinion or the 'image' of one side or the other is the day that we will know that civilization has completely gone down the tubes.
December 07, 2009

Ryan said:

Crade writes,

"You will find once the big labels finish collapsing, the replacements will be much more realistic. Software companies are not like record labels. They do not (would not) take over the copyrights from the creators. The cost of developing and maintaining software is low (especially simple software to market and sell stuff online). The competition is fierce as can be. The reality is that the musicians are the biggest contributors and should receive proportional compensation."

Although I'm sure you're right and that they'd be different in some ways that might benefit musicians, I don't think we can accurately predict how a software company would treat artists, should they assume the role of 'label' in the future. Frankly, I think that they'd be fools, under such a scenario, NOT to take copyrights from musicians, especially since this practice is already conventional in the music business: what kind of business would give up easy money (licensing!) for a vague ideal that isn't even all that common amongst musicians?

I suppose that leaving copyrights on the table might be a possibility, if ever there is a cross-over time when these hypothetical non-traditional music companies are competing directly with traditional labels to sign artists to exclusive deals. But note that this concession was made occasionally under
the old model, and it almost always involved superstar artists who were able either to obtain their old masters as part of renegotiating with their old label, or to keep the rights to future masters as part of a deal with a new label. In other words, the overwhelming majority of artists' deals under the old model involved artists willingly conceding their copyrights (masters) because they got something essential back in return that they couldn't otherwise acquire (marketing money, tour support, etc.). If under any hypothetical new model, given that artists still can't afford services that are indeed prerequisites to commercial success, why would the nature of their relationship to the company that provides these things change significantly?

Except in very rare cases where there is excessive competition for an act or product, the party with the most money will also exert a disproportionate influence over the terms and conditions of a business relationship. No?
December 07, 2009

Yatti said:

@all Canadians who have ever produced a song etc..

You may want to consider joining this lawsuit even if you suspect CRIA hasn’t stolen from you.. We wont know the full extent of the damage otherwise etc..
December 07, 2009

Yatti said:

Ryan said:
Brian (above) is drinking the anarchist/technocratw Kool Aid.

Sir, can you name even one act that charges $100/seat and is without a record label (or, in the case of someone like Prince, isn't the product of the old system)? As for new artists, I'll spell this out for you: "You can't get there from here".

I'm no major label advocate (I've been in a couple of protracted legal disputes, as an artist, with big labels on both sides of the border); but I reject out of hand as ludicrous, on the basis of my experience, your claim that the business of music requires no middle man or institutional infrastructure. Hey, I'd like to be wrong. But I'm not.

Artists with any significant experience in this process (and anyone else who's ever made a consistent living in this industry) know that it's virtually impossible to reach fans and build a career without making substantial investments in expensive media strategies (new or old). And 99% of artists don't have the money to fund these endeavors. Sure, you could swap third parties, and substitute, say, venture capitalists or software companies for record labels. But that's not what you've suggested. And regardless, such a swap would likely be a case of 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss'.

Ticket prices = Inflated by venues etc..

Ryan your claims are better set in the 1950s.. I will point you to one movie example that beat every single hollywood release in theatres currently.. Its called INK... and it disproves every point you have made in your post.. Go take a look at their blog if you don't believe me..
December 07, 2009

The Mad Hatter said:

60 Billion?

I hope that they get nailed for the full amount. A message need to be sent to the corporate community that they aren't above the law, even though they would like to be.
December 07, 2009

Average Joe said:

Those who live by the sword died by the sword.

Hope they enjoy their punishments when the ACTA comes.
December 07, 2009

Sigma said:


I agree, your point is quite a bit out of date. Middlemen there must be, but not like these dinosaurs.
Btw, the name you're looking for is Radiohead. granted, they were with EMI until they did that, and quite likely no one else could have gotten away with it, but all in all, it did work out for them.
Fact is, they do, in fact, handily invalidate your point that they don't exist by . . . well; existing.
December 07, 2009

crade said:

"Except in very rare cases where there is excessive competition for an act or product, the party with the most money will also exert a disproportionate influence over the terms and conditions of a business relationship. No? "
- Not sure what you mean by excess of competition, but with many to most markets that have regular competition, this is not an issue, so I would say no.

- No software company would survive if they tried to take away the copyrights or set prices so disproportionate to the services they provide, there are already several companies available will allow musicians to sell their music through them and they are reasonably prices (or ad-driven).

- You don't need to be a superstar to make a decent living as a musician if you don't need to give up 95% of your profits. You start small, and build on your successes like anyone else. As usual, only a very small portion of people will be hugely successful.

December 07, 2009

TooReene said:

"filesharing is killing music!"

No! It was a complete suicide...
December 07, 2009

Alb said:

Catch 22
They are now in a catch 22 situation. If they are found guilty and the court upholds the $20k per infringement then they cease to exist in Canada (remember they are only subsidiaries). If they reduce the amount or redefine infringement, then they set precedent. The only way out is to reduce the damages and make the precedence so narrow that no one else can use. They are already morally bankrupt so why stop there.
December 07, 2009

Ryan said:

Yatti, I'll check out INK, thanks. But your movie analogy is flawed, and hardly undermines any of my points: we're talking about the music business in quite a specific way that just doesn't translate like you seem to think it does. Apples and oranges, I'm afraid.

Sigma, Radiohead was a product of the major label model, so their existence hardly disproves my argument. I was careful to make this caveat in my post.

I'll ask again: can anyone point me to even one artist that charges $100/ticket and isn't either on a big label or the product of a big label? You can't because there isn't one. Even if you could point to a single outlier, that's hardly compelling evidence that such a scenario is anything but an anomaly.

Crade, I take your point that software companies in the software business function differently than music companies function in the music business. But that doesn't mean, however, that if software companies assume some future role in the music business that they'll continue to function in the music business as they did in the software business, especially with respect to their contractual relationships with artists.

What I'm suggesting is that the kind of competition that serves as a corrective against contractual inequity in other industries is often not a factor at all in the music business, at least not between an artist and a label at the beginning of their relationship. In fact, the only time that competition is a factor in these formal relationships is if the band has multiple offers, which is quite rare; and even then, this 'competition' is almost never strong enough to yield anything close to contractual equity between new artists and a label. Why not? Because there is massive competition between millions of artists for scarce resources, which ensures that the overwhelming majority of relationships between musicians and labels -- whatever their form -- will continue to be characterized by inequity.

Why would a new company, taking the place of a record label, change this dynamic between artists and label, which is so favourable to them and potentially so rewarding? They wouldn't, unless they had to. And they won't have to because there will always be more artists than available resources.

As to your last point about the possibility of unencumbered middle class musicians, I wish you were right, but my experience argues against it: I've signed two recent recording contracts with major labels, signed a management contract with one of the biggest managers in the history of the music business, toured the continent several times, attended numerous music festivals and state-of-the-music business conferences, met thousands of artists, and yet know of only one or two artists who play original music and consistently earn anything resembling a 'decent living' without a big label of some sort involved. Those aren't good odds.

To clear up another misconception, bands on majors never ever gave up 95% of their profits, except on the sale of recordings (publishing excluded). Yes, it's now possible for an artist to maintain a very high percentage of his or her apparent profits from the sale of recorded music: but 95% of nothing is still nothing. And worse, you're completely absent the the resources you need to build your career: it's impossible (read that: impossible) to create a fanbase that's capable of sustaining a middle class income without spending significant amounts of money on marketing, promotion, and tour support. Anyone who argues against this point quite obviously has no experience in the matter.

On the basis of all this, I think it's very likely that any future business that provides substantial, career-making resources to artists will continue to demand the same concessions from them in return that major labels demanded.
December 07, 2009

Crockett said:

Best Christmas present ever!
Ow, the sweet irony. Tapity-tap-tap-tapity-tap-tap-tap
December 07, 2009

sixty gig on *MY* pending list and rising said:

we all have a "pending list", and it's probably half the hard drive
We are all record companies now and our playlists should all be called "pending lists" now in our playback program. Just what exactly legally does one have to do to be considered a "recording label" and qualify for this pay-never royalty agreement? I say one has to do nothing except claim to be a record label.

OK you may have to guzzle a 26er of vodka and codeine and do some underage groupie in the back of a van while promising she'll get to meet the band, and cheat a teenager out of more money than his whole family has ever seen, and drive drunk in a Lamborghini, to be a *real* "record company executive". Not that we need any more of those ever.
December 07, 2009

Anobe said:

Serves them right...RIAA better watch out!
December 07, 2009

Christopher Jerome said:

Its Called "Karma"
what goes around comes around, At last they get their comeuppance!!

December 07, 2009

Pete said:

Copyright infringmant or commercial gain
Since this infringement is for commercial gain they should be paying the max penalty possible. Willfully doing the infringement for commercial gain they should be paying 3 times that amount and do jail time.

They should have filed a criminal complaint and went that route too.
December 07, 2009

Yatti said:

Ryan.. The movie INK has no hollywood backing and has managed to surpass almost every single hollywood release currently in Theatres.. So in other words.. Yes you can get there from here..

Hollywood studios distribution is now a thing of the past.. You say show me somebody who charges 100$seat and is without a label.. I am not sure why you picked 100$/seat as most concert tickets are so inflated in value due to shoddy schemes.. This isn't how independent artists work these days.. I can't rap my head around what you are trying to get at.. Artists don't control the ticket prices you do understand that right? Ticket price isn't reflective of an artists rep in the industry either.. I think the better question is show me an independant artist who is successful yet doesn't have a label (in which there are many).. The big 4 aren't everything.. Small size labels are performing much better these days imo..

== Ryan Writes:
Sir, can you name even one act that charges $100/seat and is without a record label (or, in the case of someone like Prince, isn't the product of the old system)? As for new artists, I'll spell this out for you: "You can't get there from here".
December 08, 2009

Yatti420 said:

If The Lawsuit Is Closed To New Parties..
Hi All,

If the lawsuit ends up being closed to new parties etc.. ( I diddn't check first).. Then I will be the first to sign a petition etc for the release of the pending lists.. and if necessary file another class action lawsuit to see how bad the industry has really gotten..

Will we eventually get to see ALLL pending lists for CRIA?

What recourse do artists have on the pending list if they are not paid after this lawsuit?

What if there are multiple lists yet CRIA only produces one list with limited # of artists etc..

Stuff like this comes to my mind...

December 08, 2009

Yatti420 said:

Ryan.. I would also like to point you the Canadian Music Creators Coalition.. Who all dropped their labels as far as I know... Yes names like Avril Lavigne.. Sum 41.. These arent small names.. YOu asked for products of the big 4... I am giving them to you.. Heres a list.. http://www.musiccreators.ca/wp/?page_id=7

--Ryan Writes:
Sigma, Radiohead was a product of the major label model, so their existence hardly disproves my argument. I was careful to make this caveat in my post.

I'll ask again: can anyone point me to even one artist that charges $100/ticket and isn't either on a big label or the product of a big label? You can't because there isn't one. Even if you could point to a single outlier, that's hardly compelling evidence that such a scenario is anything but an anomaly.
December 08, 2009

FBM said:

Graham Henderson quotes:

"In Canada, that's not happening and it's not happening because we have a culture here where people just assume it's free. People are simply abandoning the marketplace altogether, and they've made the decision they'll just [steal] the music and worry about how the artist gets paid later."

“Outsiders perceive Canada as a backward nation that doesn’t respect or protect one of its most precious resources – intellectual property.”

“Stripping away the outlandish elements of [HBO’s series Deadwood] plot, there are strong parallels to Canada’s digital marketplace. It’s a place with few rules and where our citizens operate in a moral vacuum…there are no rules and no sheriffs to enforce the rules. Honest citizens who want their private property protected and their wishes respected are out of luck.

“[Filesharing] is a model that works well for successful artists with established fan bases. And it is a model for SOME new artists. These artists do not see the sale of music in the form of digital files or CDs as important to them. They see them as promotional in nature - as ancillary to live performances and merchandise sales. But for each one of these artists, there are many, many more who beg to differ. They do not want others expropriating their property without compensation. They want to earn a living from the sale of music.”

“We need to set some rules of the road—so Canadians can know clearly the difference between legitimate and illegitimate on-line products and practices. We need to protect creators’ livelihoods—the fruit of their creativity, hard work, and financial investment.”

“It's common sense: when people can take music without paying for it: legitimate sales suffer, careers suffer.”

“It comes down to this: In Canada, criminals engaged in the theft of intellectual property are, after years of flouting the legal system, finally brought to justice, given a slap on the wrist, and sent to bed. The travesty is that there are so many more criminals…who are either not charged or face the same type of nominal penalties after repeatedly profiting from their crimes.”

“It's both troubling and astonishing that calls for action by Canada against counterfeiting and digital piracy can be characterized as "bullying." It's been a while since I've spent time in the schoolyard, but I don't recall bullies demanding transparent rules, order and fairness to impede the theft of other people's property.”

“Far from the "exploitive" relationship some say exists between Canadian artists and record companies, the goal of our recorded music business is to find new artists and help them create music that will be embraced by fans. In the current climate, that's become increasingly difficult. What organization can afford to invest in an artist's work when "customers" can easily take it for free?”

“In the end, there is a great divide between the Canada that some critics of copyright reform are putting forward, where musicians have little or no ability to stop the theft of their music, and the country many artists support, one in which they can derive an income and develop a career writing and recording music.”

“It's clear around the world that, anything that can be digitized - music, movies, software, books and more - is under unprecedented threat from theft and abuse. From a Canadian business standpoint, these threats compromise Canada's future economic growth in a global, knowledge-based economy. This has also led to an erosion of respect for "products of the mind", undermining values like honesty, fair play and respect for property that are core to our society.”

And my captcha? "Graham Accursed". That can't be coincidence!
December 08, 2009

Donald Jones said:

Record Companies don't care
I have been owed money from a song I wrote on a 8 year old CD from Razor and Tie
and they don't bother to call me back.
December 08, 2009

Waddy McDuff said:

The sad part is that the shysters will get most of the settlement.
December 08, 2009

Da Man said:

Dr. Mike: Why are you just not reporting on a story that is a year old? Certainly your CIPPIC friends must have tipped you to this then...
December 08, 2009

Martin Ozolin said:

The music maker was the story
In the early 80's a DJ with composer and arranger talents could make an interesting background music tape for a public meeting place. Many artists were inadvertently flattered and promoted in this way. Record labels were left scrambling for better ideas. With the advent of videotapes, CD's, file sharing and ultimately idea-sharing, it seems to me that in some cases both artists and record labels are engaging in an ongoing yet obsolete dispute over title to past sentiments that have made up our lives. Is it worth to get really caught up about this? How much money has been lost by bankers? I am leary about attempts to recopyright our popular history but it is important to crack down on peddlers of "greatest hits", for most of them know not what they are doing to the public that pays for it.
December 08, 2009

Vaudevillian said:

Down South
I wonder when the artists down south pick up on this and nail the RIAA.
December 08, 2009

jammy said:

@Yatti : What are you basing your assumption that small sized labels are doing better lately? Do you have any experience in the industry or is this just a wild guess?

I'm a designer who's worked doing album packaging for indie labels for the past 15 years and lately everyone is playing funeral marches. Distributors are going under one after another and sales are DOWN everywhere.

My own pay is now half of what is was when I started . I'm actually planning to go back to school to get a new trade now , in my mid 30's because I'm still in a shitty rental. And I'm someone who's very in demand , and has won many industry awards for my work .

Doing this work , I've become friends with many of the band that are my clients. I mostly work with smaller bands who play 400-2000 capacity venues and have yet to witness the phenomenom of the middle class band. Even some of the more "hyped" indie bands I work with spent most of the year on the road and keep their belongings in a storage facility or parent's house.

None of them really make much money on the road , they all seem to just hope they will get to Radiohead level.

December 08, 2009

cobolhacker said:

But music is free
FBM posted:

"In Canada, that's not happening and it's not happening because we have a culture here where people just assume it's free. People are simply abandoning the marketplace altogether, and they've made the decision they'll just [steal] the music and worry about how the artist gets paid later."

But to a Canadian music _is_ effectively free. You listen to it on the radio for free, you listen to it on the TV for free, you listen on Youtube for free, hear it in the elevator for free and you can download it for free. Someone in the industry knows that people are getting paid behind the scenes for all that, but to a regular Canadian, the value of the music itself is zero.

People always assumed that the money you paid for the album was for the album itself. Or the money you paid at a concert was for putting on the show. The idea of something untouchable being worth something doesn't make a lot of sense to many people. Especially if they are copying the 'property' and giving it to a buddy with no money changing hands. If indeed the artist deserves a percentage, what is 50% of zero?

You can't stop people from downloading. They don't want to. They have these crazy laws in the U.S. and it hasn't done jack. I know if you are an artist, the idea of people downloading your stuff and not paying you seems unfair, but that's the reality and no amount of legislation is going to change that short of the death penalty. Do you really want to live in a society like that?

I think instead of pulling out the legislation bat, I think artists and the record companies are just going to have to dream up new ways to extract money from their fans.
December 08, 2009

Barry Sookman said:

Michael, I do not believe your article on the Chet Baker case is accurate. I have done a posting on my blog that explains how the pending lists system works so your readers will understand how this industry wide consensus is used to get music to consumers in a timely way. http://bit.ly/7YApXI
December 08, 2009

cobolhacker said:

It is also possible to make a living with a record company
This is sort of for Ryan.

I know this musician guy, J Brian. One man show. No record company. Plays in bars and at weddings and stuff. When I first met him, I think he was charging $300 for a gig, maybe more, and he was doing them three days a week. $900 times 52 is $46800. This isn't counting the CDs of his stuff he flogged at shows. One year he even was asking for tips so he could get some fancy new speakers or something. He exceeded his fundraising goals.

Even if we assume he was having to expense $7,000 on professional gear and fuel, $40,000 a year isn't too bad, better than a lot of Canadians, and pretty good for just playing in small venues like bars.

He owned his house, his own car, went on vacation for a few weeks of the year. Basically an average Canadian. If he wants to make more he could try bigger venues, but I think he just likes the small scene.

I guess the point I'm trying to make that one can make a living as an artist without help from a giant media company. There seems to be this attitude some have that music artists are all supposed to be rich and it just isn't true. If you are the kind of artist who can sell a million albums and pack 50,000 in a stadium, well fine, but the notion that a record company is required to have a career just isn't true.
December 08, 2009

Ryan said:


Your guy played covers. Cover bands always make a living. I was careful to include the adjective 'original' as part of my claim that the popular notion of a new middle class of popular musicians is a fiction.


Again, providing an example from the movie industry does not strengthen your argument about the music industry. And I didn't pick the $100 figure for ticket prices -- someone else did, to whom I was responding. And that you think that ticket prices are inflated artificially -- in apparent ignorance -- has no bearing on the conversation.
December 08, 2009

Me said:



Who's the pirate now, eh?
December 08, 2009

Dave said:

Great to see CRIA represented here, Barry. I'm sure there is a consensus among the labels that selling songs now and paying for them later is a great business model, but your dreamland scenario of how this system works is at odds with the reality of the situation. Is it really hard to find these artists? Only if you're not looking very hard!

Also, I love the bit about 'getting music to consumers in a timely way.' Chet Baker's heyday was in the 1950s, so how could there be such a rush to get his music out without clearing it?

Nice try, but your attempts to minimize this theft are weak, and your smears of Michael are laughable. But that's what lobbyists do, right? Yours is a great example of the kind of music jobs that the big labels claim to be protecting.
December 08, 2009

Cynos said:

Discrepancy in lawsuit amount
The Star reported that the CRIA is facing $60 billion lawsuit http://www.thestar.com/busines...fringement

I think they might have made a mistake and need to amend that.
December 08, 2009

Sarsaparilla said:

Christmas came early this year!
This sounds like a pivotal case with very far reaching consequences. Whatever happens, the industry is in a lose-lose position and everybody else is on gaining side. Now please excuse me while I rub my hands in a vat of glee.
December 08, 2009

Anonyme said:

@Barry Sookman
Unfortunatly for you Mr. Sookman, CRIA must be held accountable at the same level as anny other infringer.

If they did profit from content that they DID NOT pay the liscence to distribute, then they did copyright infringement.

List or no list the artist must be rewarded for their work for each copy of their content sold.

If the CRIA can go over that requirement, then the CRIA is a criminal organisation similar to for-profit pirates that copies music to resell in flee markets.
December 08, 2009

Anonyme said:

I ment: "If the CRIA did not obey that requirement ..." not "If the CRIA can go over that requirement"
December 08, 2009

Anon Y. Moose said:

Criminal infringement!
Intentionally infringing for profit more than 5 copies of each work moves it beyond the level of civil liability and into criminal activity. The officers and directors of these companies should be charged with criminal copyright infringement and imprisoned.
December 08, 2009

M-RES said:

$60 billion is a more accurate figure
The $60 billion figure would be a much more accurate reflection of the scale of the 'industry's' crime. Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay £80,000 per track for merely sharing. The labels here should be made to pay the maximum allowable under law, $150,000 per track, at the very least.

Also consider that Thomas only shared tracks and made no financial gain from the infringement - only a civil offence. The labels on the other hand having committed a clear +criminal+ infringement by profiting from their infringement. This is also known as counterfeiting and as far as I'm aware can carry prison sentences for the perpetrator.
December 08, 2009

M-RES said:

Jammie Thomas was of course ordered to pay $80,000 (not £80,000 as I posted) XD
December 08, 2009

cobolhacker said:

For Ryan.

That J. Brian guy I mentioned writes plenty of original stuff and some of it is quite catchy. I'm pretty certain he's a member of SOCAN, I just don't think he's ever been interested in playing large venues. If anything, he's read the market he's got access to correctly. Pay on par with the service.

Only in the IP market do people think that one creative or innovative work should be a jackpot for the rest of their lives. You think Michelangelo got paid for every time someone gazed upon the Sistine Chapel? He did the job, he got paid for the job. This is what most of us in the world do.

The downward slide in the perceived value of music began when it started to be treated less like a work and more like a product. Naturally, people want to get the products they buy at the best price possible and free is that price, which is what the Internet is giving them.

Don't misunderstand, I know darn well artists gotta eat too. But perhaps this whole idea of forced payment for merely possessing a copy of someone's IP is the wrong one. Up until the 20th century, musicians were paid by patronage, by the job, ticket sales to shows and by asking nicely. People basically paid what they thought it was worth.

I will throw this out there, however. What the CRIA is doing isn't right. People copying my stuff and giving it to their friends is one thing, but re-marketing it for profit is quite another. I know that sounds sort of hypocritical of me to say, but if you see music as a work then people sharing it free is just people sharing culture. I don't think this is a behaviour which should be punished. If a publisher thinks he can make a buck off it again, as if it were product, the honourable thing to do is give the artist a cut.
December 08, 2009

Jason K said:

@ Barry Sookman
You stated in your blog: "It is fascinating to observe Prof. Geist’s sudden epiphany about “rampant infringement” in the music industry. He has repeatedly opposed copyright reforms that would better equip copyright holders to enforce their rights against BitTorrent and other file share networks and services."

I think you've mislead your readers as well in this statement. With respect to the music industry, you will not find a consensus in Canada with respect to the actual artists around this issue. Many acts have left the organizations you represent due to the blind sightedness of "enforcement" rather than actually making money off of BitTorrent and file sharing networks. This is where the market is located, and it's up to industry to follow this market, not ram products and out dated technology down the throats
of consumers.

Geist stands for fair and balanced copyright. I think you'll find that with respect to almost all of his followers, and among the majority of Canadian artists and creators spanning across the spectrum. A quick look at how many Canadian Creators came out individually against their proposed lobby's in support of getting paid for their work, but also not infringing on the rights of individual Canadians in the copyright consultations is a huge message I think those you represent didn't hear correctly.

The question we are currently faced with is:

1) Do we follow the past 10 years with respect to "trying" to enforce something that is largely unenforceable with respect to P2P without infringing on individual rights and freedoms of society?


2) Do we choose to embrace technology, build the compensation and copyright into the networks so that all parties rights are protected, and our Artistic talent is paid?

The issue here is really not with respect to paying our local talent through copyright enforcement. If that was the case than #2 would have been applied a decade ago. This has to do with those who stand to loose a substantial market share, and control over a market. It sucks to be in a free market economy, where the consumer dictates the products and services they purchase, not corporate lobbys and lawyers.

I hope you've been paid in full for your services Mr. Sookman. I think no matter what direction we go in, those you represent will have a hard time paying their bills. Good luck.

December 08, 2009

Colin said:

@ Ryan
You seem to be under the impression that correlation = causation. You're asking for proof of a band that can charge "$100 tickets" as though that proves something. The big 4 are almost the entirety of the music industry, so it's natural that big bands are under them. Does this somehow prove that only the major companies in the music industry can create high-profit bands? No, it's just means that when you control the vast majority of the commercial market, the vast majority of the high-profit products will naturally be inside your sphere of influence.

Oh, and since you were asking for it, here's your example:

December 08, 2009

Laurel L. Russwurm said:

Who's the Propagandist?

Mr. Barry Sookman believes that whatever the Canadian Recording Industry Association decides is a "consensus" as they formed the former virtual monopoly (and are the corporations who are plaintiffs in this suit).

Mr. Barry Sookman's blog post slags and demonizes Professor Geist, claiming Professor Geist slags and demonizes the recording industry. Which is kind of funny as I think that Professor Geist tends to be too nice.

The telling point is that Mr. Sookman has to post a comment on Mr. Geist's blog in an attempt to drum up readership for his own propaganda effort, where not a comment is stirring, while Mr. Geist's blog has... how many comments now?
December 08, 2009

A. Non Emus said:

That the recording industry has been so damning of free piracy for all these years while at the same time actually profiting from their own form of thievery is absolutely disgusting hypocrisy. For all the damage piracy has done, it was at least not used as a means to exploit artists and rob them of the due rewards for their works.

I hope the CRIA takes the full blow of that $6 billion lawsuit and we can finally get rid of this band of profiteering leeches who've been sucking the life and talent out of music for the better part of the 20th century. It's about time we said goodbye to this outdated business plan.
December 08, 2009

Jose_X said:

more for more
[Ryan]>> I'll ask again: can anyone point me to even one artist that charges $100/ticket and isn't either on a big label or the product of a big label?

Some of those that might likely have already fallen into the big label fold (path of least resistance). I'm really not sure there are that many artists that can devote all their time to that craft and make a ton of money (eg, certainly not millions from the USA). This will always be the case.

Independents continue to have more options. More competition at all levels exists. For example, advances in and proliferation of computers (and software) and of the Internet are lowering many costs and enabling many more contributors to the puzzle. Lower-friction communication and sharing also leads to more low priced products and better utilization of limited resources.

Along the way to a fairer system, we will see numerous chokepoints eliminated or significantly weakened.

I do wish more artists/writers/special effects people/producers will look into Creative Commons or similar forms of licensing. The various different "actors" should for the most part be uncoupled from each other.

The bottom line is about enabling society: more for more people instead of less for fewer. Few will make obscene amounts, but more will make a healthy amount and more will simply have the opportunity to pursue a "hobby". The consumer wins as well.
December 08, 2009

Amanda said:

Sookman Comment
Why would anyone care what Sookman has to say anyway. He's probably the least popular legal professional in the country right now. His blog posting only show's 1 comment, and it's a RT from twitter. That and even if Prof Geist posted some inaccuracies, I'm sure he would correct them. Not like the CRIA in which Sookman represents who are so full of inaccuracies on their arguments in the copyright debate, and have no public backing, they have to try and launch a campaign to discredit Prof Geist in order to obtain a millimeter of credibility. It shows the utter desperation coming from Sookman, and the people he represents.

Let Sookman have his 1 blog supporter. They don't have an inch of credibility within the public domain on this issue. He deserves to feel "special". Happy Holidays everyone.
December 08, 2009

Ryan said:


Thanks for the note. I think you're confused about the nature of my argument, because it is not logically flawed in the way that you say it is (or perhaps you don't really understand the fallacy you think you've identified). Regardless, I'll repeat what I said a few posts above: I didn't select or introduce the idea of $100 ticket prices, Brian did. Here's the relevant selection from his post:

"...the best thing an artist can do for their own profitability is to ditch the record company, thereby lowering the barrier to obtaining new fans from $15 per fan to free and see that many more faces at their shows each of which is paying nearly $100/seat to enjoy them live."

This fantasy scenario follows from Brian's claim that record labels are no longer essential for success in the music business, and that the strategy he outlines is broadly feasible. I stated that his ideas are highly dubious, and that I think he'd be hard pressed to find a single act that doesn't have a record label (or isn't the product of the old major label system, like Radiohead) that charges $100/ticket. For new bands, his so-called strategy is pure Pollyanna, for the simple reason that investments in touring and marketing are very expensive prerequisites to establishing a fan base big enough to sustain a career that can provide a middle class living for an artist playing original music. And, sorry, the Arctic Monkeys confirm my point: their international success corresponds with a very expensive, highly organized marketing and tour effort that involved a US major and a large UK independent label. Further, their shows are nowhere near as expensive as $100/ticket.

And nowhere did I claim that only major labels can provide these resources. In fact, I was careful to use the phrase 'large labels' (many indie labels are very big).

So there will always be big companies involved in the music business, who will provide resources to artists in exchange for a pound of flesh. And these companies --- software companies, ISPs, record labels, whathaveyou -- -will be big companies first, and 'new' and 'reasonable' second (if at all).
December 09, 2009

cobolhacker said:

A change in business may be needed
Ryan does raise a good point. Being a session player or a cover guy is a way to make a living, but if you want to get your original stuff out there and make some decent money, it's hard to pull that off alone. Not every great artist is good at promotion or even knows how. Large scale sales, the organization and promotion of large concerts is not something a guy can do alone.

A change in record company business practices is maybe what's needed, because I think they're going to die in their current state. Part of a problem is they are still organized like companies which produce works on physical media, a market that's rapidly becoming niche. Another part of the problem is I think they now see themselves as more intellectual property companies because they have become used to the idea of owning the exclusive rights to the output of an artist.

Maybe U2 gets the royal treatment from their label, but most musicians signed to a label seem to be getting treated as employees rather than clients. You hear stories of artists cranking out half-baked albums because they are desperate to fulfil a contract they don't like (Nirvana) or artists who sell zillions of units but wind up with nothing (Bay City Rollers).

These things could be fixed. If the record company never owned the rights and behaved more like a marketing and services company with the artist as the client, I think the both could do nicely. Artists who think they've got a great song to sell could hire as many firms as they want and drop firms who didn't give them what they wanted. I think the record companies would have to shrink to accommodate this, but since that's happening anyway might as well try something new.
December 09, 2009

James said:

Mr. Sookman's blog
@ Barry Sookman: I left a mildly critical comment on your blog, but it's still "awaiting moderation," two days later. Oddly enough, another comment which supports your position has been posted from about the same time. I hope this is a simple oversight, rather than clumsy censorship.

My comment to your post read simply, "Thanks for providing an alternative viewpoint.

However, I think you’ve rather missed the point; the plaintiff asserts that the pending list system is being used in an unreasonable manner to defer or avoid payment of mechanical royalties.

You assert that “As soon as owners are identified, or claims resolved, the publisher gets paid and the claim is removed.” However, to my knowledge there are no searchable pending lists made available to artists, nor is this information publicly audited. It appears to be a case of the fox guarding the hen house."
December 09, 2009

hahahahahahahahahhahahahahhahaha said:

December 09, 2009

Christopher said:

The recording industry will just push for laws that exempt them
From paying anything to people with private copyrights that are older than 10 years, and will get off once again.... hate to say that, but I'm pretty sure that is how it is going to play out here.
December 09, 2009

Laurel L. Russwurm said:

Not only in Canada...

This is not the only case of Recording Industry malfeasance as I learned yesterday at http://www.osnews.com/...

Adding the Edwyn Collins story makes it reasonavle to assume its a worldwide problem: http://blogs.myspace.com/index...=512410712
December 09, 2009

Mike B said:

Industry vs Consumer
Mr. Sookman,

I believe filesharing is a "internet community wide accepted custom" and has "comsumer wide consensus", therefore it must be legal, right?
December 09, 2009

PeterM said:

Just to add to the question of "is a major label needed" to make an act successful...

Touring is expensive. And recording can be much cheaper than ever, but is still not cheap if you want to do a really good job. And major labels have been essentially banks--they would put up money to allow tours and recordings and promotion to happen. If you're an artist with no label, either you need lots of money, or at least lots of credit (try going to your local bank and sell them on the viability of your music career, especially now). Even if you're happy to tour in a car and sleep on floors and eat at McDonald's!

I agree with Ryan that the optimism of "you can make yourself a star, just use the internet!" is very naive. The internet has leveled the playing field to the point where any goof with a computer can create music and make it available to the world. Hooray! Meanwhile, the general public is desperately in need of filters... seeking ways to separate the wheat from the chaff... and the legitimate artists who have struggled for years to get noticed have no advantage in the realm of online marketing and promotion. Not to mention that we're in a whole different cultural era now. People don't just consume music differently, I would argue they listen differently. They might hear something great, get distracted after a couple of minutes, drift off and never come back. There's much less commitment on the part of listeners. That's just the way things have evolved. I don't think it's either debatable or resistible.

Some things take off, sure. Briefly. Some indie artists find some success. But the story you never hear is, at the end of the day, did the artist *really* make any money? Artists always put on a brave face in interviews, you'll always hear "the reception to the album has been amazing, it's going really well"... and the videos and photos always create a false impression of prosperity. But once all the bills are paid--middlemen or no middlemen--and you spread the income out over the amount of time the music took to create, and deduct all the expenses, where are you at? Most musicians make very, very little, even if they look like they make good money. I'm a professional musician myself, I've had a major deal and toured the world, and I can confirm that the best gig for musicians is playing weddings.

I'm not saying that artists were better off with labels. But they at least had a bank to front the money needed to do stuff. So they got to DO stuff (while they were not making money). Now the problem is there's less for artists to DO. I know many artists (myself included) who simply can't afford to tour.
December 09, 2009

Joe Average said:

Hey, anyone remember that band, TLC? They sold tens of millions of records back in the 90s, anyone remember? Don't go breaking waterfalls, remember?

They went bankrupt. How many indie musicians go bankrupt? In this day and age? And if they go bankrupt at least they're not on the hook for millions. The recording industry, at this point in the game, are nothing more than parasites or thieves.
December 09, 2009

Thomas Dean said:

Similar Recent news
Back in October there was an article on both Slashdot and the Guardian about Edwyn Collins, the former lead singer of Orang Juice. They did all of their recording independently, and gave limited non-exclusive licenses to the recording companies. That is, they retained the copyright to the songs. He tried to post "A Girl Like You" to the web, only to get take down notices from Warner Music, one of the companies which had been sold a limited non-exclusive license. Even though Warner has admitted the mistake, they can't find out how to get the takedown notices to stop flowing. They also mention that the biggest infringers are labels selling without permission. Is this perhaps pending lists in the UK and USA? Might be an interesting addition to the article....

December 09, 2009

Jason K said:

@ Joe Average
A large part of the failure with TLC was due to a band member "Left Eye" that passed away. They actually had a replacement search going on for a while and a reality TV show, but never recovered from Left Eye's death.
December 10, 2009

North of 49 said:

Kudos to the commenters calling out Sookman
It's a pleasure to see all the comments calling out lawyer Barry Sookman on his smear of Dr. Geist.

One thing I'd like to point out, looking at Sookman's post purely from the perspective of a piece of persuasive writing, is how little real factual content it contains. The prose is positively purple with bombast and over-the-top rhetoric, as if he's channeling John Baird trying to defend the government's coverup of what it knew about the torture of Afghan POWs.

What that all means is that he doesn't have any solid arguments. As noted by earlier commenters, he's trying to slag Dr. Geist because that's the only arrow left in his quiver, and it's great to see so many people not only not falling for it, but stepping up and calling it out.

(Ha. Captcha words are "betrays and".)
December 10, 2009

Defamer said:

Big band ticket prices

It's not important what the band charges but what people are willing to pay. A scalper may buy a ticket for 75 and charge $125 for it. That is not to say that the overall value of all the tickets is $125 but you get the point. Anyway, Metallica is a self made band, that DID NOT use the big labels media power to promote themselves until they were already big. The did it by Touring hard and playing hard. But that is not my point either, my point is that the record companies are obsolete. They may provide some services that my still be needed, but they themselves overvalue their services and their business model needs to be redefined.
What do record companies do that are still of value?
1) supply loans to artists based on whether they believe an artist will be successful. They typically market the artist to ensure they are successful.
2) Market artists so that they can be successful. When record companies perceived they were not making enough money due to losses from file-sharing, they created self made all boy and All Girl bands like Back Street Boys(US) and Atomic Kitten(UK) etc. They are very good at the marketing side of this business.
3) they buy an artists copyrighted song and then distribute the songs via CD, and lately via digital media.

The main problem is entitlement. The record labels believe they are entitled to exploit the artists as they have been for decades. If they had their way, artist would only reap fame and no fortune from their music, but times changed and are changing again. Governments need to create a system where the download software reports to a central agency when a song is downloaded or erased from a users system. taxes on storage media are then distributed to artists.

This gets rid of record companies distributing artist songs for there source of money,(not for CD sales though) and forces them to be what they are, which is an advertisement agency. They can directly charge artists for this work. They can still give artists loans if they believe a band is talented and sign on as a bands management also.

Yes there are flaws in this system but they are solveable. The biggest would be the potential for artists to download there own songs over and over again, but this could be solved also.

In my opinion this system (still half-baked and in its intial concept stage) is where things need to go.

The big labels don't need to die but redefine there roles in this digital era.

Best to you all!

December 10, 2009

Carrie Graham, Musician said:

Sookman: "The pending list system, which has been around for decades, represents an agreed upon industry wide consensus...."

Right, like 10% breakage fees from the vinyl days when one in ten records allegedly broke in shipping.
Like payola was an accepted practice for getting radio airplay.
Like slavery was a cotton industry-wide accepted practice for producing higher profits.

Just because everybody does it doesn't make it right.

And artists who produced the product in the first place starve while wily lawyers get rich off of stealing things that don't belong to them and rationalizing it by saying, "Don't worry, you're on a list, someday you'll get paid, everybody does it..."

It's THEFT. Borrowing money that you don't pay back or selling something that doesn't belong to you is THEFT. And wrapping it up in a bunch of rationalizations and legal jargon doesn't change its basic nature.

Or the nature of those willing to engage in such morally, ethically and legally reprehensible behaviour.
December 10, 2009

Rounding Error said:

Anyone of Dr. Mike's disciples find it intriguing that the good doctor can't to basic multiplication? I mean he ran a story in the largest newspaper in the country saying the record biz could get whacked for $60B, when the figure was one-tenth that, and unrealistic even then as there will be no settlement even close to this figure. Later he admits his math skills are lacking. That's a pretty big cock-up, even for the good doctor.
I can understand criticism, but to go so out of his way to make the situation look more dire is truly pathetic.
Why is no one asking why he sat on this story for a year?
December 10, 2009

Kai said:

Rounding Error:

Oh you called people disciples, implying religious zealotry simply because they don't match your viewpoint, you're so droll! ... and ironic.

And funnily enough, you struggle with basic English. I mean, you used "to" in your first sentence, instead of "do", that can't be a simple mistake. It couldn't say be a mistype, similarly to how an extra zero in the mix might turn 6 to 60. No, I'm afraid it undermines the value of your entire comment.

And of course, applying the standards (like statutory damages) of one person (or organisation) when discussing an issue (like a court case, or a comment, perhaps) they're involved in is far too strange a concept, very far out of the way.

Almost as strange as not being omniscient, I mean who could reasonably expect him not to instantly know about this and every other court case in Canada, no, you're right, there must be a conspiracy.

Disclaimer: This comment may be filled with copious amounts of sarcasm.
December 10, 2009

dr kopp e wright said:

That's a LOT of money !
....and I thought $15.95 was a lot for a single CD.......how about $20,000 per CD x 300,000 units !!??
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
December 11, 2009

Edd said:

And is there anybody out there that's really so naive as to think there's a judge out there that's going to find the record companies guilty???????? WHOOOOOHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!
December 13, 2009

freshwatermermaid said:

myspace too
Speaking of which, it now looks like artists won't be paid from myspace for the songs they've sold via snowcap stores after myspace aquired imeem, according to Wired.com.

December 14, 2009

MadCow said:

20000$ per song? shouldn't it be per copy?
The value for Copyright infringement, set by the industry itself, is 20000$ per infringement and that's a per copy price. If 20K is all they need to pay per song and can then make as many copies of it then its actually a good deal. I believe the amount should be closer to 600 Billion or more (I am assuming they sold 100 copies of each). Its incredible that these companies that are complaining about piracy are the greatest pirates themselves. Software industry is no different, Microsoft steals code, Chinese fonts, patents other peoples ideas. Who lives by the sword dies by the sword; its time we apply their own rules against them.
December 15, 2009

CB200 said:

Poetic Justice, love it. Does that mean, everyone that they took to court can get their money back?.
January 04, 2010

Christian R. Conrad said:

Misdirected replies redirected to Sookman

I've taken the liberty of re-posting replies directed at mr Sookman, but posted only here, to his blog where they logically belong.

If this offends any of the original commenters, I apologise profusely; I did it partly so as not to be seen stealing the excellent arguments of others but still making sure they got to him, and partly on the assumption that the original commenters posted here in stead of there not so much because they wouldn't want their comments published there but rather A) out of habit, B) in order to reach a larger community of commenters, and/or C) because they doubted their comments would be published there.

These are the posts by:

1: Anonyme ("CRIA must be held accountable at the same level as anny other infringer")
2: Jason K ("I hope you've been paid in full for your services")
3: Laurel L. Russwurm ("Sookman believes that whatever the Canadian Recording Industry Association decides is a 'consensus'")
4: Amanda ("It shows the utter desperation coming from Sookman")
5: Mike B ("filesharing [...] has 'comsumer wide consensus', therefore it must be legal")
6: North of 49 ("trying to slag Dr. Geist because that's the only arrow left in his quiver")
7: Carrie Graham, Musician ("Like slavery was a cotton industry-wide accepted practice")
8: MadCow ("The value for Copyright infringement, set by the industry itself, is 20000$ per infringement and that's a per copy price")

It remains to be seen whether mr Sookman will publish them, or if perhaps they'll be caught in his anti-spam moderation system... If he even got them at all; after posting a comment, the page just went blank, so I don't know if any comment was actually received or if they all just went into limbo. Which might of course be yet another reason people posted their comments here in stead of there, if they too couldn't get through over there.

(Heh -- captcha: "delays freedom")
January 13, 2010

coetsee said:


Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

January 20, 2010

somaie.seo@gmail.com said:

small business
With Facebook and Twitter being among the leaders of the Social networks, marketing as a small business is being transformed..
Respondents according to the Vertical Response survey appear to need some differentiation with the use of SE marketing and Social media Marketing

January 27, 2010

Emma said:

Who are we kidding? This won't go anywhere. They can't let themselves lose, and admission of hypocrisy of this magnitude would set a possibly devastating precedent against their American big brothers.

In other words: Not gonna happen, keep doing as we say not as we do.
February 10, 2010

Saccha said:

Very informative article. I learned loads of information from your blog.

You might also be interested in an article I recently read concerning the music industry. Larrikin Music sued EMI Songs Australia due to copyright infringement.

Check out the original article here
July 30, 2010

RobbieCrash said:

Has anything happened with this?
Has there been any update on this lawsuit? I've Googled around, but haven't been able to find any news on this post 2009.
December 29, 2010

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March 19, 2012

Magnus said:

What happened? This was 2 years ago, any update?
February 13, 2013

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