Nova Scotia

Musician wonders how songs ended up for sale online without his OK

A guitarist from Cape Breton was shocked this week to discover his music was being sold online without his knowledge or consent. Maxim Cormier of Chéticamp said a local radio station was offering track-by-track digital downloads for a fee.

Guitarist Maxim Cormier says local radio station displayed a lack of respect

Maxim Cormier called police after he discovered his music was being sold online without his permission or knowledge. (Alyssa Gallant)

A guitarist from Cape Breton was shocked this week to discover his music was being sold online without his knowledge or consent.

Maxim Cormier of Chéticamp said a local radio station was offering track-by-track digital downloads of his songs for a fee.

"I had never given permission to them to do that," said Cormier. "And I had certainly never received any payments for any of the sales."

When Cormier found out, he called the police. 

'They should know better'

Angus Lefort has assumed blame for the mix-up, but says it was an honest mistake. (Submitted by Coopérative Radio Chéticamp)

"A part of me wants to think it's that they didn't know better, but they should know better. They're a radio station, this is their business, dealing with music and royalties and how to treat artists." 

The manager of Coopérative Radio Chéticamp, also known as CKJM, has apologized for what he says was an oversight.

"I thought every artist had been contacted, but I guess not," said Angus Lefort.

"I feel very sorry for that and the website is down now."

Lefort said when the non-profit community radio station built the website in 2013, it wanted to build a music store to give listeners the option to buy the songs they hear. 

Station thought Cormier knew

He said someone was hired at the time to get permission from the artists and he was under the impression that had been done. 

Lefort said he was as surprised as Cormier to learn the musician wasn't aware his music was on the website. 

"It's my fault," said Lefort. "I should have done a thorough check and made sure, but that's what happened."

Coopérative Radio Chéticamp says it plans to reimburse the artists whose songs were sold. (Maxim Cormier)

Since he found out, he's taking steps to fix things.  

The original agreement in 2013 was that tracks would be sold for 99 cents and artists would receive 60 cents from each song.

'We don't want to hurt any musicians'

Lefort said they are in the process of checking their PayPal records and will be reimbursing any musicians whose music they sold. 

The website listed 41 albums for sale. Some of those were compilations made by the radio station, but others, like Cormier's, were his own productions. 

"I don't think it's outright theft," said Cormier. "I do think it's copyright infringement, a lack of respect and a lot of negligence." 

We don't want to hurt any musicians.- Angus Lefort

Lefort has been in the radio business for years and said he never intended for any of this to happen. 

"We don't want to hurt any musicians," said Lefort. "We try to promote these musicians, so we wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize that."

The RCMP in Chéticamp did not comment on the case. 

About the Author

From people around the corner to those around the world, Norma Jean MacPhee has more than a decade of experience telling their stories on the radio, TV and online. Reach Norma Jean at norma.jean.macphee@cbc.ca