By way of Michael Geist, the latest salvo in the copyright wars is being fired by a record label. But it isn’t what you think.

Nettwerk, the great Canadian label that represents Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne and the Barenaked Ladies, has taken sides in the Recording Industry Association of America’s war on users. And it’s siding with users – in court.

They’re intervening in a lawsuit against the family of a Texas teenager accused of illegal music downloading. The RIAA wants thousands in damages, and cites – among other songs – “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne, who happens to be repped by Nettwerk’s management division.

“Litigation is not ‘artist development.’ Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love,” Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride says in a news release. “The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists’ best interests.”

Nettwerk is paying the family’s legal bills, and has announced it will cover any fines the court ultimately levies.

This is classy. And nervy. And cool.

I’d also like it to be good business. So here’s what I’m doing.

I’m going to the iTunes music store, right now, and I’m buying something from a Nettwerk artist. (I’ve been meaning to anyways.) Then I’m sending an email to the folks at Nettwerk ( to let them know I’ve done it, and what prompted me.

If you’re making a music purchase in the next few days, and you think these guys are on the right track, maybe you’ll consider doing something similar. If you do, let me know in the comments below.

While you’re shopping for music, let me just mention Sheeba. Jane Siberry’s online store has an amazing pricing policy:

Like many, I’m restless and impatient with living in a world where people are made to feel like shoplifters rather than intelligent peoples with a good sense of balance…. You decide what feels right to your gut. If you download for free, perhaps you’ll buy an extra CD at an indie band’s concert. Or if you don’t go with your gut feeling, you might sleep poorly, wake up grumpy, put your shoes on backwards and fall over. Whatever. You’ll know what to do.