Rick James’ Estate Tries for Eminem-esque Royalties

April 5, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — Following a recent court decision that gave Eminem and his producers a higher royalty rate for digital music, the estate of Rick James has filed a class-action suit against the Universal Music Group, saying that the company has failed to properly account for royalties and may owe its artists “tens of millions of dollars.”  The suit, filed on Friday in United States District Court in San Francisco, seeks unspecified damages from Universal as compensation for unpaid royalties. The case was filed on behalf of a trust representing James, the singer of hits like “Super Freak” who signed with Motown — now owned by Universal — in 1977, and died in 2004.  In response, Universal said in a statement: “The complaint filed by the estate of Rick James suffers from many infirmities, not the least of which is that the claims asserted are not appropriate for class treatment. We intend to vigorously defend against it.”

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