Universal faces royalty dispute

March 2008

Record labels, artists

CMU Daily report that Universal Music and one of its subsidiaries have “pervasively and systematically breached” artist agreements since at least 1998 by employing devious accounting tricks that conned artists out of royalties they were due” in a claim brought by high profile classic artists in a lawsuit launched against the major record company in the New York courts last week. Among the artists making the claim (or the estates of artists in the case of the dead ones) were Patti Page, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Les Brown, Richard Hayman, Dick Hyman, Woody Herman, Kitty Kallen, Frankie Laine, Tony Martin, John Mills, Jerry Murad, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Sarah Vaughn. The litigation claims Universal provided false information in its biannual royalty reports to artists between May 1999 and February 2007. It says: “Despite a relationship based on trust and manifold contractual obligations, and despite the fact that defendants realised an overwhelming windfall to both its finances and reputation as a result of this relationship” the major “utterly failed” to meet its contractual obligations. The lawsuit is seeking $6.07 million in allegedly lost royalties plus legal costs and punitive damages. However, Universal has denied any wrong doing, saying in a statement on Friday: “We believe that these claims are baseless, and we are confident that we will prevail in court”.

From the CMU Daily www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

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