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Lavigne's label defends right to pirate: Nettwerk defends online piracy

Nettwerk defends online piracy

Over the last few years the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have led a campaign of fear against file sharers in North America, instilling a worry of reprisal in all but the most naive users of P2P software such as Kazaa, Soulseek and Limewire, to name but three. In late January, Canadian-based industry giant Nettwerk Music Group, which manages everyone from Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan to Sum 41 and Swollen Members, announced its decision to go to bat against the RIAA in a Texas case that sees one David Greubel accused of sharing up to 600 songs found on the family’s computer.

For Canadians, many questions regarding file sharing remain unanswered to this day. "CRIA did file suit against 29 alleged file sharers in 2004, but that action was unsuccessful," said University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, Canada’s leading authority on Internet and copyright matters. "I think the Conservatives may seek to take a second look at copyright policy. That could have the effect of delaying the introduction of new copyright legislation."

Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride echoed this uncertainty – "that it is still to be decided by the courts, as it’s unclear" whether Canadians are allowed to download and share music via the Internet. Incredibly, McBride maintains that even though his company "has been hurt, especially in catalogue sales… the current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists’ best interests."

"The future [of the music industry will be led by] the fan and how that fan wants to consume their music," asserts McBride. "Some will want a physical product, others will want a more portable digital version and some will simply want to subscribe to a ‘service’ through a mobile device and have access to millions of songs. We feel that the latter two are the future."

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  • by Russell McOrmond - February 16, 2006, 6:49 pm

    We need to remember that it was a lack of evidence that was the root cause of the loss by CRIA members in the Canadian filesharing cases. All they needed to have done is download some of the alleged infringing files and listen to them to verify that they were songs that CRIA members were the copyright holders of. The major labels with all their resources spent on lobbying the government for radical changes in the law seemed too lazy to collect evidence.
    Had they offered evidence we would have seen the case move forward and get some clarity. Is filesharing a “communication to the public by telecommunications” like radio, is it the “making of a copy”, or is it a mixture of both with the sender “communicating” and the receiver “making a copy”.
    Private copies are subject to a levy paid for through a levy on blank audio recording media, and musicians are also only able to levy “communications to the public”. While there is not yet a levy in place where users pay for the right to share by “communications to the public”, this not because consumers haven’t been willing to pay but because the music industry has been asking for the money from the wrong people (they asked the ISPs to pay via “Tariff 22″ rather than asking those wishing to share music).
    These are all interesting questions, but we need to remember that CRIA is not the victim here and that they are going out of they way to increase the animosity between themselves and Canadian music fans. There are many ways to solve this problem, none of which include suing grandparents and children without any evidence for activities which even previous Government ministers were uncertain is legal or not.
    If you are an independent musician or a fan want to protect your rights in this area, there are various groups you can participate in:

  • by Mark St Pierre - February 17, 2006, 12:40 am

    Hmmm, this is a mighty interesting development. Am I to understand that a CEO of a relatively major label is in favour of on-line piracy?!? Don’t kid yourself, boys and girls, this is a temporary stance that is predicated on future mega-profits. This dude is merely a little more enlightened than most record company moguls. I’m guessing he just doesn’t want to alienate his target demographic whom he’s hoping will be lured, before long, into buying his lable’s music en-masse on-line.

  • by Pedro Eggers - February 17, 2006, 6:39 pm

    The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are in serious denial and honestly I can’t blame them. The industry they’re trying to protect from piracy just doesn’t exist anymore and they know it. The good old days of people just buying albums and cassettes is gone. Thanks to digital innovations the music has escaped the constraints of old. Who wouldn’t want to pick and choose at their leisure instead of being limited by what some invisible overseeing entity tells you you’ve got a right to? The proverbial genie is out of the bottle and there’s no going back.

  • by Andy Blair - February 17, 2006, 11:11 pm

    I have always been a big fan of Nettwerk, ever since I was first exposed to them by the high quality of Sarah Mclaughlan’s CDs (amongst the first labels to include all the computer bells & whistles on audio CDs). This just reinforces my view that they are one of the most progressive, fair labels in the world that truly have the best interest of their artists and consumers in mind for a change. How many other record labels would have this on their website:
    “Litigation is destructive, it must stop …. as per Nettwerk copyrights, we have never sued anybody and all our music is open source to encourage fans to share it with others and help us promote our Artists. As per those Artists we manage on other labels (Majors), we take issue with those labels claiming that litigating our fans is in our interest, as it clearly is not.”
    If only other record companies Got It like Nettwerk seems to. But they don’t, and it seems likely that with the new Conservative government in Canada, there may soon be a review of Canadian copyright policy and perhaps legislation resulting from that. Other labels will be very loud in their demands for a digital lockdown. We owe it to ourselves to make sure that our MPs know we want consumer rights protected. If not, we may see the country end up in the same DMCA-style litigious morass of record-labels constantly suing consumers, copy-protection schmes that make CDs unplayable on computers, and copyright extensions to protect corporate interests (at society’s expense). Write your MP a letter or email:
    Find your MP

  • by Ronny Pangia - February 18, 2006, 12:56 pm

    I absolutely agree it is up to the consumer to set the path as to what they want to hear and how they choose to do so. The music industry has been milking hapless music lovers for decades with CDs, albums and compilations that forced us to buy into songs we did not want to hear only for the few songs we really wanted.
    Add to this the anti-piracy hacker-firendly technology found on Sony Cds such as the one found on the Celine Dion’s latest compilation to screw things us and you find yourself with consumers that are not only frustrated but revolting by seeking other mediums.
    It’s time to rethink the model once again and lead by innovation and not by protecting an extinct commodity. Vive la révoution technologique!

  • by Rob Postuma - February 19, 2006, 9:24 pm

    I understand the arguements – as a protest against crazy pricing, one good song on a cd and you don’t feel the need to buy the whole cd, the fact that most of the stuff found online is free.
    I understand the arguements, I really do.
    But.. when it comes down to it .. illegal copying of copyrighted music is nothing more than stealing. It’s that simple. Justifying it by saying that the artists hardly make anything compared to the record companies does not justify it no matter how hard you try. It’s stealing. If artists make nothing, if record companies make nothing – the music industry will just not even try to put out music worth hearing. If musicians can’t make money recording their music, chances are they’ll just keep their jobs at the local grocery store and go to college instead. The artist’s dream of making money dissapears in smoke- and so does the odds of getting good music out of companies. What also dissapears – is complete albums, being replaced by a collection of singles. Companies will forget concept albums, b-sides and the such – and instead just put out hits collections. Top 10 will rule, and everything else will go down the tubes.
    Stealing is stealing .. no matter how you justify it.

  • by Stephen Talko - February 21, 2006, 8:53 pm

    File sharing makes just as much sense as sharing computer software which in most cases is clearly prohibited. With sharing you never know who is the true owner. You do not always get what you want. Going the legal route by paying individually for downloaded songs is too restrictive. It would be better to pay a fixed amount for unlimited access to a wide range of musical genres. You would never again get stuck with music that got on your nerves. You would be more willing to explore new musical styles. This would help the careers of less well known artists. It is just a question of finding the right price point. Nothing is really free in life.

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