Record Company Piracy = $6bn Losses
How ironic. Major record companies in Canada are facing a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Apparently, these companies have a long standing practice of including songs on compilation CDs without paying the authors for doing so. So, Michael Geist is helping them sue CRIA in Canada. The record companies have successfully lobbied for excessive copyright damages to be enshrined in legislation. Now they are potentially on the receiving end of them – at $20,000 per song for 300,000 songs, gives $6e9 (ie $6 billion Canadian dollars). To use their (incorrect) rhetoric, they have ‘stolen’ this money from artists. Presumably the cut and thrust of this sort of action would result in the parties reaching a settlement for a sum substantially less than this. It will be interesting to see whether record companies argue that the full amount of such penalty damages should only be awarded for individual file sharers who do not profit from their infringement and not in the case of the organised infringement for profit that they have apparently been engaging in. That would qualify them as unethical, as the essence of ethics is to not make an exception of yourself.
Further, of course, if there were any justice, then the Attorney General should be bringing criminal actions against them, since commercial infringement for profit typically brings with it criminal sanctions. I suspect this won’t happen either. Should the State pursue individuals at the record company’s behest, but fail to prosecute them in worse circumstances, that would be corruption. What happens in Canada will determine whether or not widespread cynicism about copyright is justified.