Following today’s report of the US Supreme Court’s refusal to reduce the $675,000 fine of a Boston University student after successfully being sued by the RIAA for illegal downloading and file sharing, comes more news concerning the messy world of litigation.
With all the legal wrangling concerning music piracy, it tends to ignore the actual artists whose songs are involved in the first place. What do the bands think of their record labels’ severe consequences on individuals?
We’ve seen cases before of artists calling off the hounds, most notably Radiohead ordering that several cease and desist injunctions sent to fans be dismissed; but not all bands with the status and creative control of the Oxford quintet are so lucky.
One such act is American Metal band All Shall Perish, whose fans are being charged with the illegal downloading and sharing of the group’s music, despite protests from the band themselves.
According to TorrentFreak, All Shall Perish’s German label, Nuclear Blast, signed away the band’s copyrights to a Panama-based company, World Digital Rights, who are now seeking to sue up individual parties for damages owed for infringement. World Digital Rights filed for a lawsuit in April that targeted fans of the band and were recently granted permission by a judge to obtain the identities of eighty alleged file-sharers, with a view to seeking financial damages.
The band’s manager, Ryan Downey, was hoping that the lawsuit against the file sharers would be withdrawn, but was shocked and angered to learn that Nuclear Blast had not only passed on the copyrights to World Digital Rights without his, or the band’s, knowledge or consent; but that they had persisted with the lawsuit regardless.
In a statement issued to TorrentFreak, Downey says:
“The band’s attorney made it clear to the licensing people [at Nuclear Blast Records] that the band wanted no part in lawsuits against fans. The industry is changing, illegal downloading is troublesome for bands and of course, for record labels, but whatever the solution will be – streaming, subscription, Kickstarter, new ways of looking at it entirely, whatever comes about – the band and I are in agreement (as is their lawyer) that SUING MUSIC FANS SURE ISN’T IT.”
The band and their manager may be powerless to ensure that their fans and the alleged filesharers aren’t sued by World Digial Rights, considering they technically no longer own the copyright to their own music; but Downey offers his vote of support to those being targeted.
“The band, their attorney and myself have and will continue to take any steps to protect their fans, yes, even those who file trade,” says Downey. “The band would prefer that their fans legally purchase, stream or otherwise enjoy their music. But they definitely have not, will not and do not wish to sue their fans.”
Once again, it’s a mad, mad state of affairs when a band has to fight against the very labels that are supposed to be supporting them.
While the introduction of popular streaming services, like Spotify which launched in Australia yesterday, will hopefully curb the recent rise in music piracy – it also introduces a whole new set of sticky legalities of what is owned or owed, and to whom.
Hopefully, it’s not the artists or their fans who get caught in the financial cross-fire.