Elvis Estate sues for unpaid royalties

October 2011

Artists, record labels

Elvis Presley’s estate is suing Arista Music in Germany for $9m (£5.6m) in unpaid royalties dating back to 2002 for ringtones, downloads and apps. The lawsuit also alleges the label (then RCA) exploited Presley in a $5.4m (£3.3m) 1973 “buyout” of his catalogue. It claims that, as a result of the contract, Presley went on to receive just $10 (£6) a year for worldwide rights to each of more than 1,000 recordings and the estate is seeking  a share of future revenue.

It seems that under the 1973 agreement, RCA bought the rights to Presley’s back catalogue – with the $5.4m fee split evenly between the singer and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker – parker famously took a 50% management commission. The Presley estate says the singer’s annual payment for each song of about $10 is “conspicuously disproportionate” to the revenue RCA made from master recordings. As well as seeking $9m (£5.6m) in unpaid royalties, the estate wants a share of future revenue until 2023 – 50 years after the deal was struck and the year when Arista’s copyright expires under German law. The estate says it wants “equitable remuneration” asking the court to redress the deal as disproportionate and asking for equitable terms to be ordered.

And for more detail read Monika Bruss  on the 1709 Copyright Blog 

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