The Beatles sue EMI over disputed royalties
By Adam Pasick
LONDON (Reuters) – Echoing their song “You Never Give Me
Your Money,” The Beatles have sued record company EMI Group,
claiming that they are owed 30 million pounds ($53.1 million)
in royalties after negotiations broke down.
Apple Records — owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and
the families of John Lennon and George Harrison — said on
Friday that an audit determined that EMI has not been
fulfilling the terms of its contract.
EMI owns the copyright to The Beatles recordings in
“Despite very clear provisions in our contract, EMI persist
in ignoring their obligations and duty to account fairly and
with transparency. Apple and The Beatles are, once again, left
with no choice but to sue EMI,” Apple Records said in a
Lawsuits were filed on Thursday against EMI in London and
against its Capitol Records subsidiary in New York after the
parties failed to reach a deal.
“Artists do sometimes request an audit of their record
label’s accounts, that’s not unusual, but sometimes there are
differences of opinion, especially when the contracts are large
and complex, when you can get issues of contractual
interpretation,” an EMI spokeswoman said.
“Ninety-nine out of 100 audit problems are resolved by
amicable settlements for a small fraction of the claim,” she
Apple Records and EMI have already fought a decade-long
courtroom battle, over royalties and other issues, which was
resolved out of court in 1989. Apple Records claimed that EMI
secretly sold or gave away millions of records to retailers.
The dispute over royalties follows a settlement of more
than $50 million paid to dozens of artists by a group of music
companies including EMI, Universal Music Group, Sony Music, BMG
and Warner Music. The 2004 deal centered on unclaimed royalties
and was brokered by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Apple Records has also filed lawsuits in the past against
Nike Inc for using the Beatles song “Revolution” in a
commercial, and against Apple Computer in a trademark dispute.
(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Goldfarb)