Latino star latest to launch digital royalty claim

April 2012

Record labels, internet

Popular Latina music star Graciela Beltran has filed a class action complaint (Case # CV121002) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against EMI Music, Inc. The case arises out of the alleged failure of EMI to pay the full royalty rates to artists such as Ms. Beltran on revenue generated from the licensing of digital downloads and/or ringtones. Beltran’s attorney Joshua C. Ezrin of Audet & Partners, LLP said “From the information we have received, it appears EMI has failed to pay Ms. Beltran and its other artists the amount owed on the licensing of songs for digital downloads and ringtones,”  adding “Graciela Beltran is bringing this action to ensure all artists are properly paid for their work.” The Temptations have also joined a long group of heritage acts disputing their royalties, here with Universal, but elsewhere this month we comment on the proposed agreed settlement between Sony and a number of artistes in a class action. The Temptations are basing their claim on the precedent set in the FTB (‘Eminen’) case, successfully brought against Universal. And at South by South West in Austin Texas Gloria Gaynor suggested that rule in the US which says songwriters can reclaim any copyrights they previously signed away after 35 years – should apply to recording artists too. The 1978 provision in copyright law  doesn’t mention sound recordings, and labels insist that the reversion right does not apply to master recordings, because labels are in essence the creator – in that they commission the work – and the artists are simply engaged on a “work for hire” basis, depriving them of authorship. And also at SZSW, Spotify board member Sean Parker, being interviewed by Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning said that the streaming service had to be more transparent in how it allocated royalties to record labels for the use of sound recordings. Another stone I presume the label’s don’t want lifted up and looked under.

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