Frampton is suing Universal Music Group for $500,000 in withheld music royalties. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a successful effort by Eminem’s producers to up royalties for Em’s digital sales. Both cases are represented by Nashville attorney Richard Busch, a partner with King & Ballow. Busch is also representing Felice Catena, the sister and heir to the late Knack drummer Bruce Gary, in a similar lawsuit.
“The issues in these cases go beyond simply breach of contract,” Busch told the Tennessean. “The plaintiffs allege the wrongdoing here is a part of [a] deliberate effort to deprive the parties of their royalties.”
Busch said he is evaluating the claims of other artists as well. Meanwhile, the heirs of Rick James have launched a class-action lawsuit against UMG.
At question is whether online sales is treated the same as physical sales. Record companies have conventionally claimed albums cost a lot to produce and ship, and have taken a large sum of royalties to offset the expenses. Yet, many times, record companies claim the same royalty split for digital sales. Artists such as Em and Frampton are now claiming the royalty split should be 50/50 – the same as if their music was licensed to movies or television.
The Eminem decision said such music is indeed licensed and artists are entitled to that split.
Meanwhile, after receiving a notice from Frampton’s attorney, UMG issued a check to the artist for $212,000. The lawsuit reportedly contends that UMG hoped Frampton would deposit it “thereby potentially relieving UMG Recordings of further liability.”
The Eminem case has one more court hearing in Los Angeles, the Tennessean noted, and a UMG representative was unavailable for comment.