AFM takes Sony to court over musician’s film royalties

August 2015

Artistes, music publishing, Film & TV


The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment for ‘repeatedly violating its collective bargaining agreement’ – the Sound Recording Labor Agreement – in an action is brought under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.
Among the alleged contract violations cited in the suit is recording work on Michael Jackson’s This Is It, a 2009 film documenting Jackson rehearsing and preparing for the series of live concerts shortly before his death. The law suit states that Sony called musicians for a recording session claiming it was for a “record” when the actual purpose was to lay down a film score for This Is It. The Sound Recording Labor Agreement (which Sony has signed up to) prohibits recording film scores. Musicians have been unable to collect residuals for the movie soundtrack.
AFM International President Ray Hair said the AFM Motion Picture Agreement should have been used.
The suit also charges Sony with refusing to make new use payments on a number of other projects including Pitbull’s 2012 version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and sampling of Jackson songs like “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror” in This Is It.


The AFM is seeking breach of contract damages, including the payment of wages and benefits that should have been paid to musicians.

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