Acadian guitarist and composer Maxim Cormier from Chéticamp, a village on the west coast of Cape Breton Island, was alarmed when, last week, he found his music selling online without his permission or knowledge.
Local radio station Coopérative Radio Chéticamp, known as CKJM, was offering track-by-track downloads of his music and the music of other area musicians (41 albums in total) for 99 cents per song. "I had never given permission to them to do that," Cormier told CBC News. "And I had certainly never received any payments for any of the sales." He contacted CKJM manager Angus Lefort, who indicated he was aware of the situation. That's when Cormier ended the discussion and involved the police.
Lefort has since shut down the website and apologized for what he describes as an oversight. The station's online music store opened in 2013 and someone was hired to solicit permission from artists, Lefort says. "I thought every artist had been contacted, but I guess not."
A screenshot of the CKJM music store before it was shut down, courtesy Maxim Cormier.
He calls the mistake his fault; he should've reviewed each artist agreement himself. Now, the station's in the process of checking PayPal records, he says, and reimbursing artists for sales." We don't want to hurt any musicians." The original deal was that 60 cents from each purchase would be paid to the artist.
"I don't think it's outright theft," Cormier says. "I do think it's copyright infringement, a lack of respect, and a lot of negligence." In a recent Facebook post, the guitarist disputes CKJM's repayment. According to Cormier, Lefort claims they owe him about $5, but the artist says some of his songs were listed among the site's bestsellers. He'd like to see the proof of sales himself.
"As a matter of principle," he writes, "I have asked the RCMP to press charges."