Major Canadian Record Labels Reach Agreement Regarding Payments to Songwriters and Publishers

TORONTO, Jan. 10 /CNW/ - EMI Music Canada Inc., Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. have reached an agreement to pay songwriters and music publishers for outstanding "pending list" claims and to resolve a proposed class action lawsuit.

The current music licensing system allows for recordings to be issued without preclearance from copyright owners but subject to licensing agreements with CMRRA and SODRAC, who represent most publishers and songwriters. The vast majority of royalties owing for such sales have always been and will continue to be paid promptly by the record labels. The proposed agreement settles all alleged copyright infringement liability related to that small minority of unlicenced works that have accumulated over the years. The proposed agreement also establishes a new mechanism that will expedite future payments of mechanical royalties to music rights holders.

"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."

"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."

"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.

Under the agreement, the record labels will pay approximately $45 million to resolve all disputed claims related to their past music releases in audio and video formats and to settle a copyright infringement class action lawsuit commenced in 2008. The settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the record labels. The agreement is subject to approval by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The agreement was arrived at with the active participation of the two Canadian licensing collectives, the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), and Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada (SODRAC).

David Basskin, the President and CEO of CMRRA, said, "This agreement with the four major labels resolves all outstanding pending list claims. EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner are ensuring that the net result is more money for songwriters and music publishers. It's a win for everyone."

Alain Lauzon, the General Manager of SODRAC, commented, "Equally welcome will be the creation of a new licensing system that will keep the pending list problem from building up again. This solution has been needed for many years."

Songwriters and publishers whose works are on the pending lists are represented by Jonathan Foreman of Harrison Pensa LLP and Paul Bates of Bates Barristers. Additional information about the settlement can be found at

SOURCE Harrison Pensa LLP

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