RIAA claims artists will see cash from the LimeWire settlement

Last week a settlement was reached to the tune of $105 million for the infringement case the RIAA won against LimeWire last May.  The real question is exactly how is that money going to be distributed.  

Jonathan Lamy, the RIAA’s Senior Vice President of Communications made a statement that the decision as to who gets what is “a decision for the individual plaintiffs.”  Lamy goes on to speculate that artists will see a cut of the $105 million based on the historical precedent set when the KaZaa case was settled.  When asked, three of the four record labels involved in the suit against LimeWire said they would in fact share the settlement money with their artists.

RIAA claims artists will see cash from the LimeWire settlement

While it’s nice to believe the record labels and Lamy, the truth of the matter is that artists are still waiting to see any of the settlement money from the Napster, KaZaa, and Bolt.com suits.  Napster’s settlement alone was $270 million.  John Branca, a prominent lawyer who has previously represented major stars like Don Henley and The Rolling Stones states, “Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for.”  Branca goes on to say that some of these artists and managers are even considering legal action in an attempt to obtain their piece of the settlement dollars.

Record label sources are claiming that which artists will get what amount of money is still being decided and those decisions and calculations are what’s causing all the hold up.  Branca sees the matter quite differently claiming “The record labels are experts at transferring money around and putting the onus on artist’s managers to find it.”

The reality here is the RIAA is sure to deduct the cost of lawyers and court fees for a 5 year trial from the $105 million settlement.  Once that money is removed from the pot what’s left still has to be split between the four record labels involved in the original suit.  Some of this money could trickle down to the artists if the record labels keep their word, but exactly how much is a mystery.  The most likely result will be that one of their artists with very large sales “impacts” will see a cut of the settlement money.  This guarantees that smaller artists who lacked earth shattering sales in the first place will never see a dime.  It’s these artists that probably need to see this kind of settlement money the most.

The fact that many artists are still claiming they haven’t seen a dime from any of the previous suits won against other peer-to-peer sharing networks definitely doesn’t leave a warm and fuzzy feeling about any of LimeWire’s $105 million making it back to the people who created the content in the first place.

Will this be another case of RIAA greed without regard for the original content makers? It could very well be.