Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada could be liable for up to $6 billion for music piracy, according to Canadian Internet legal expert Michael Geist.
The labels are being sued by the estate of jazz trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker and others, as part of a massive class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit is the result of a longstanding practice in Canada of labels releasing compilations and live recordings without obtaining the proper copyright licenses. Instead, the labels have created a "pending list", meaning that approval and payment is pending.
The pending list reaches back to the 80s, so there are hundreds of thousands of recordings for which paymen is "pending".
The lawsuit seeks statutory damages of $20,000 per song, which could push the labels' liability to $6 billion.
Courts have found individual file-sharers liable for tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last year. Do you think there's any chance of that happening to the labels themselves?