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Canadian record labels swindled artists, pay £30m

Canadian subsidiaries of the world's top four record companies have been caught red-handed robbing the back catalogues of musicians and composers.

According to Canuck news outlet Money Canoe, Sony, EMI, Universal and Warner all deliberately exploited the music of artists both living and dead without paying them the proper royalties or informing them of the use, instead electing to squirrel away a slush fund of $50 million Canadian just in case they got rumbled.

As it turns out, the family of jazz trumpet legend Chet Baker got wind of the scam and brought a class action suit against the Gang of Four, which has resulted in an order to pay $47.5 million - leaving a nice round two-and-a-half mill in the bank for solid gold patio furniture and Cristal by the bucket for music company execs.

It transpires that, rather than paying musicians the money they were owed automatically and through well-established channels, they were added to a 'pending list' of artists who would only be remunerated if they made a fuss.

The court also slapped the collective wrists of the CMRRA and SODRAC, two Canadian music licensing organisations that carp on constantly about artists being robbed of their living by Internet pirates, but who in this case were seen not to be doing their job at all.

Settlements will be approved on February 14th - unless, of course, the companies involved decide it would be a better idea to spend $20 million stalling the case instead of paying the people they've stolen from.