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Overground Online

Universal Accused of Failing to Pay Artist's Royalties

Legendary soul group the Temptations have filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group (UMG) after claiming the label cheated them out of download and ringtones revenue.

Otis Williams and Ron Tyson say they signed a contract with UMG in 1993, which states the group should receive around 15% of sales revenue and 50% income from the licensing of their music.

Apple’s iTunes download store generated around £883 million during the three months leading up to July 2011 – a huge sum which should be shared appropriately with the artists.

However the singers say UMG – home to acts such as Cheryl Cole, Kanye West and Elton John – deprived them of considerable income by accounting for downloads and ringtones as ‘sales’ rather than ‘licenses’.

To justify the claim, the lawsuit quotes Apple founder Steve Jobs, who once claimed that: ‘Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the ‘big four’ music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner, and EMI.’

Eight similar cases have been filed in the past year, including a similar action against UMG by Eminem producers FBT Productions.

In related news, watch the insightful confrontation above – recorded four months ago – between Bunny Wailer, a founding member of Bob Marley’s band, and Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records.

Wailer claims to have received only a fraction of the revenue generated by his landmark album Blackheart Man, recorded for Island in 1976, and accuses Blackwell of ignoring his claim for unpaid royalties.

However, Blackwell insists, UMG, who purchased Island in 1998, are responsible for the failure to pay out.

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Tags Eminem, elton john, Apple, cheryl cole, island records, Kanye West, Temptations, Universal, Universal Music, Universal Music Group, UMG, Bunny Wailer, Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, iTunes, Steve Jobs, FBT Productions, Chris Blackwell, Blackheart Man, royalties, sales, licensing
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