Canadian Record Labels Face $6 Billion Class Action For Copyright Exploitation

Canadian Record labels including Warner Music Canada,  Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit launched by  recording artists for facilitating the reproduction of unlicensed musical works without payment, permission or compensation. The representative class plaintiff is the estate of late Jazz musician Chet Baker, who alone owed copyrights to over 50 exploited works.

The claim arises out of the defendants’ conduct in knowingly and deliberately making or authorizing the making of, reproduction, distribution and sale of the works of canadian artists without obtaining a license or paying out a royalty to the artists. The record labels have already admitted to exploiting  $50 million dollars worth of music over several decades, which was documented on a “pending list”, which reflects the exploited music for which no license was obtained nor any royalties paid. It is believed that this “Pending List” is comprised of over 300,000 sound recordings for which class members have yet to be compensated for.

After 20 years of exploitation, the class action seeks the option of obtaining statutory damages in the amount of $20,000 per infringement, which could put the labels on the hook for over $6 billion dollars if found liable.

This demonstrates the record labels’ arrogant conduct and disregard  in copyright interests of artists, yet stringent enforcement against consumers who pirate online music.

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