Rick James Estate Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Universal Music Over Digital Revenue

In Legal News, Music Law by FASHIONENTLAW™

“The estate of Rick James, best known for his song “Super Freak,” filed a proposed class action lawsuit on Friday against Universal Music Group over money owed from digital downloads and ringtones.

The new class action lawsuit comes in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision not to review a case initiated by Eminem‘s former Detroit-based producing partners, F.B.T. Productions, which won a lower 9th Circuit ruling last September deeming digital music to be more akin to a license than a physical sale of music. The distinction is important: Copyright owners get a 50% share on royalties from licenses but only about a 12-20% royalty rate from sales.

UMG hoped the Supreme Court would reconsider one the first published appellate decisions to discuss how traditional music recording agreements should be interpreted with respect to the treatment of digital music distribution, and after the Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the topic, speculation turned to how much record labels would now owe artists. The Future of Music Coalition estimated potential unpaid royalties to artists from just iTunes sales would be around $2.15 billion.” ~Full Story on THR.Esq.

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