The sheer chutzpah of Universal Music is really quite stunning. As you may recall, in 2009, it came out that the major record labels had been screwing over musicians in Canada with a bit of sleight of hand called "exploit now, pay later if at all."
The way it worked was that labels would put old works on compilations without getting artists' permission, then put the artists' names on a "pending" list, which was supposed to mean that payment to those artists was "pending." Except the pending lists were never touched and the royalties were never paid. Labels not paying artists royalties is a pretty common issue, but here they weren't even getting any credit at all. Pretty sneaky. Realizing they had been caught red handed, the labels "settled"
by agreeing to pay the $45 million in royalties owed.
However, it turns out that Universal Music Group actually seems to think that its insurance company
should be paying the $14.4 million it owes (UMG's share of the $45 million). It's now suing its insurance company for refusing to pay
. If you think about it for a second, you realize just how insane
this claim is. Basically, Universal Music is claiming that it can simply not pay any royalties at all
, then wait to get sued... and if it loses and has to pay, it believes its insurance company has to foot the bill
. Now there's a business model!