Canadian Record Labels Get Indie Record Store Owner To Plead Guilty… For Getting Rare CDs

from the those-darn-pirates? dept

Reader Vincent Clement alerts us to yet another story of a copyright overreach up in Canada, this time involving the owner of a small independent record shop in Ottawa who was charged with copyright infringement and has pleaded guilty, rather than fight it. The details are a bit confusing, but it sounds like the police raided his shop, and took a bunch of CDs, claiming they violated copyright — but reports suggest that these are mostly legal imports that simply haven’t been packaged for sale in Canada. In some cases, the “infringing” CDs were actually CDs of a local band that the store owner himself helped finance. In other words, these are the sorts of CDs you can find in pretty much any independent record store, and are the sorts of things purchased by true fans and collectors who want to own everything they can get. These aren’t the types of products that are “pirated” or bought by people looking to avoid supporting a band. It’s the opposite. But, the Canadian record labels and police have now “cracked down.” Hope this makes the US politicians claiming that Canada is a piracy haven happy.

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Comments on “Canadian Record Labels Get Indie Record Store Owner To Plead Guilty… For Getting Rare CDs”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The story is very light on facts, sort of hard to find out what he did. However…

Nolan said he often tracks down rare CDs that are unavailable in North America to satisfy his customers. Often the original copyright holders are dead, he said.

Basically, imported material that is copyright in Canada, brought it from somewhere else, where the Canadian copyright holder isn’t getting paid.

Someone being dead doesn’t make it legal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, it means while the rights to the materials in Canada are to one company, they may be to another company in another country. The act of importing the material from another country for resale is a violation of the rights holder in Canada.

So even if the material is copyright in Canada, the Canadian rights holder isn’t getting paid. Thus, it is a bootleg, even if the material itself is perfectly legal.

He would have needed to contact the Canadian rights holder(s) to get permission and pay whatever fee was appropriate before he could retail the CDs and records.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“One company has the rights in Canada. Another company has the rights somewhere else. If you bring material from outside and sell it in Canada, the rights holder in Canada isn’t getting paid.”

The Canadian rightsholder isn’t providing that material, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to import it at a hefty markup. So who is being harmed?

Free speech minimalist, I presume?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The Canadian rightsholder isn’t providing that material, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to import it at a hefty markup. So who is being harmed?

It does, provided the rights holder gives them the right (that is why they are called rights holders). It doesn’t matter where the product is sourced, the Canadian rights holder is the only legal source in Canada. They can authorize the import (probably for a fee) but you cannot just bring it in and ignore their rights.

This is sort of a clear cut case, Mike is trying to frame it differently.

As for the “Ford” comment below, please understand: you are thinking like it is one big company, this is not. This is an artist who has sold their rights to different companies in different countries. The money doesn’t end up back in the same pocket, it ends up in two companies in two different countries. Each is paying more to have exclusive rights.

Let’s say one of those markets is a lower income market, where music CDs are sold for $2 canadian. So rather than pay the $5 or $6 per piece they would have to pay to stock new albums in Canada, the record stores send their buyers to the lower cost country to buy the CDs by the case to bring back to Canada. Suddenly the rights holder in Canada is losing market, and they are facing price competition on their product from another market. They are paying highly for their rights, why should they suddenly lose them?

It’s a pretty basic concept, regardless of how Mike tries to frame it.

KevinJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Quoted from the Ottawa Sun:
“An example is a recording of 1950s singer Gale Storm. Big labels don’t press them but seniors still want to buy them so he orders them from import distributors, Nolan said.” (emphasis mine)

You’re saying they should buy from the domestic company, but the domestic company does not offer a domestic version anymore. How exactly do you buy a domestic version if the domestic version doesn’t exist?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Canada is a free market system, but assigned rights are part of a free market. The artist is in a free market, and they can freely sell their rights to anyone.

It has nothing to do with any limits on a free market, you just aren’t looking in the right place to see the market at work.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That makes no sense. That’s like saying you bought your Ford in Mexico, so Ford in the US isn’t getting paid for it if you bring it here and then sell it. How do you think that Ford in Mexico got the rights to produce the cars?

Similarly, the rights holders in other countries paid for the rights to manufacture the CD’s, so the artist has already been paid from the sale in the other country. Why should the artist get to double-dip?

Richard says:

Re: Re: Re:

Think of royalties as tax ( seriously the name “royalties” are paid to the king, as is tax ) If you bring 100 cartons of cigarettes across the Mexican border you have to pay tax on those goods even if you paid tax in Mexico. You basically get taxed twice.

Thats kinda how this works, the guy paid some sleazy hack in Guatemala for his “rights” to this record, and brought it across the border. He now has to pay tax to some sleazy Kanuck. The artist gets squat but the IP lobby cries for him nightly, pleading that art will surly die if the importer doesn’t pay up.

I guess the difference is, tax has exemptions for small quantity like … a few CDs for example.

Godric says:

Here is my dilemma with this situation. If the material is not available in Canada, then what makes it illegal to purchase it from other sources? It is BS for rights holders to refuse to sell within their own regions and wonder why people go elsewhere. Because it will not stop them. All this guy did was act in the best interests of his customers and of course someone had to step in and say that ‘your customers are not important, we are. Stop taking care of the customer at our expense’

Just because you choose to not release something does not mean people do not have the right to it. And don’t give me the the copyright company line, because it is not good enough anymore. I’m not going to be held back by some draconian and archaic set of laws only created to further the stifling of creativity and restrict access to works that should have been public domain years ago. My clients are a hell of a lot more important than the artists, or the rights holders, and I will never stray from that.

I have a friend that is a copyright and IP lawyer. I told him that if he EVER represented RIAA, MPAA, ASCAP, BMI, etc. in anything, I would do everything in my power to get him disbarred and ruin his life. Ya, it’s that important. Luckily he hates them more than me 🙂 He has been fired 3 times for refusing to work with the entertainment industry.

. says:

Great flick name.

Zombie Creator’s attack!

Monopoly Smack down Now!

Zombie lawyers slap!

Bitch Slap lawyers!

Copyright of Doom!


Copyright Tales of the Night!

Copyrights are Forever!

ROTFL! Leave it to the copyright defenders to take away one more client.

And that is why folks you don’t need to bother trying to talk about copyright. Just now that it is a monopoly and you can’t buy anything, anywhere, you have to buy the local product and if it don’t exist you shouldn’t buy at all.

According to some in this thread even if you buy a legitimate copy in distant lands it will be illegal to introduce that into your country because someone whom you never met said so.

Author dies but copyright is forever LoL

ps: That is why I have no respect for copyrights, I don’t like patents by I can still respect it a little. Copyrights on the other hand I have no respect what so ever for it.

The Infringer. says:

Give up!

If we would chase every man, woman and child who infringe on copyright this world would be a wasteland.

I do it all the time, and I’m a criminal if you ask some copyright maximalists.

Most of the time I don’t even know I’m infringing, and there are times I just don’t care.

It is time to bring copyright in line with social behaviour not commercial interests.

If creators can make a living that is all good if they can’t they shouldn’t have the power to make other peoples live miserable.

Vincent Clement says:

The sad part of all of this is that the CRIA sent in their own agents and instead of working out something with the owner, they notified the police.

This is a guy who goes the distance to find material for his customers, you know, the die-hard music fans who are willing to spend their hard earned money on rare recordings.

So what does the CRIA do? Punish that person. Seems that all that CRIA and its Big Brother the RIAA can do is punish their biggest fans. Idiots.

submetropolis (profile) says:

When a cd is sold in a second hand store no money is ever seen by the artist. “Used” music stores have been selling vinyl, 8 tracks, cassette and now CD’s since the 1940s or earlier? The sale only gets the artists material out there for more to hear. I’ve only bought a handfull of NEW Cd’s in my time on earth. 99% of the time I buy used because it’s the same thing for half price. That fact that he was hit with rare LPs and imports makes this even more absurd. They are BUYING it and not “stealing” it from the internet.
But in all comparisons buying it from a used store is the same as downloading it, the artist never seens a dime.
All things considered the store owner should get a handout from the RIAA or CRL because internet piracy is hurting his business! (I’m kidding but the point is valid)

Mystik says:



One would think they would be happy that people are even bothering to try to buy it when they can probably go download it.

Surprising no one here mentioned that.


Wow, No one knows what this guy was selling but, like the copyright defenders, instantly say it must be illegal! Why because the CRIA said so?

“…the Canadian rights holder is the only legal source in Canada.”

Wow, okay so all music sold in Canada must be approved by the CRIA? Hmm that sounds fishy to me.

Let’s say we have a J-Pop group called BigButtHo who signs with FreshFish Records in Japan. Now Sony owns FreshFish Records, the music was written by a Japanese guy, and performed by a Japanese Group. If this guy imported their latest CD for a customer where would the harm be in that? No Canadian owns any rights to it?

If there was another group called ‘The Street Corner’ who was on the same label and liked a song written by a Canadian songwriter and had that on his CD and it was brought in to Canada, there should still be no issue because the Songwriter got paid for the sale of the CD that was imported when it was sold to the guy in Canada from Japan.

Now if the CD was available from a distributor in Canada for $12.00 and from Japan at $6.00 then where is the harm in that? The copyright owner still gets paid. It is a Japanese Group after all? The fact that the Canadian division of Sony wishes to get more money for the CD in Canada or to limit it somehow is not a valid reason for that behavior. As someone else said.

“…that company should be able to have a monopoly and price-fix?”


All these companies are owned by the Big 4. If you have Sony/BMG Canada and Sony/BMG Japan it is still Sony! If some small Canadian company (Not owned by a Big 4 Label) bought the rights to sell a CD in Canada then was getting screwed by this, that’s one thing. But that is not the case.

Zone based pricing has long been a strategy employed by creating local offshoots of the big 4 (different name, same company) and locking the pricing to that zone via License agreements then if someone tries to get a better price elsewhere oops you don’t have the right license.

This worked flawlessly before the Internet. Which, quite quickly, derailed the zone business model. From then until now they are still trying to apply the zone model to music sales.

They want you to think it is all about Licenses or Rights, but in effect it is about zones. Keeping the maximum sustainable profits from those zones flowing.

Bear in mind this is the *only* industry that does this. Not too long ago I went to Europe, I forgot the cable to connect the camera to a computer. So I bought a Orb to extract the photos from the cards. Now when I came home I didn’t have to buy a right to use the Orb in the U.S. If they tried to make me do that, I would never buy from that company again. There is competition.

For years there has been no competition when it comes to music. If you sell records from anyone but us (Big 4) you will never sell our recordings again! The same with Radio etc.

As has been stated for years the Big 4 don’t know how to compete. They have never had to deal with ‘Free’ and ‘Indie’. The more they try to cling to the past the more they will fail.

Someone might have said this before I don’t know. But why not put all the talent the Big 4 have to a better use. Why not evolve into a different way of doing business. Instead of selling music, controlling rights or artists why not shift to consulting. Take a smaller cut of the sales and no copyrights and help all artists to improve. Helping tons of artists instead of the ‘chosen few’ would have a better benefit than they way it is now. More Choice, More Music and they would still be viable and profitable.

Oh well just my two cents.

Wildy (profile) says:

The funny thing is

…according to CRIA’s interpretation, an artist could get arrested for selling their own CDs at a concert. Imagine an artist from another country who is touring Canada to make a name for themselves there. Let’s assume they are on Phony Records in their home country. The album is in the process of being Licensed to MapleafMusic in Canada but has yet to be released. If said artist brought with them CDs released on Phony into Canada and sold them at shows, they would be in violation of Canadian Copyright law and could have their show raided by CRIA.

And when you realize this, it’s clear how stupid the law really is. It’s not about artists. It’s about corporations.

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