Published Jan 10, 2011Record companies don't have a lot of extra money to spare these days, as plummeting CD sales, among other things, have put their future in jeopardy. Things aren't looking any better for the four major labels, as they recently agreed to fork over $45 million in unpaid royalties in a class-action lawsuit.
Back in 2008, the estate of U.S. jazz icon Chet Baker launched a lawsuit, claiming that the labels had not paid royalties to the artists on their "pending list." As the CBC explains, this list consists of recordings that were released before royalty agreements had been formally reached. With such recordings, financial arrangements were expected to follow, but this didn't always happen.
The Baker estate's suit claimed that as many as 300,000 works by various artists were on the pending list, with $50 million in royalties still due to be paid by EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner. Now the companies have agreed to pay up, although the terms of the agreement don't include any admission of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, thanks to the class-action suit spearheaded by the Baker estate, various groups representing unpaid songwriters and music publishers will be splitting the $45 million in unpaid royalties.
Speaking on behalf of the Baker estate, lawyer Jon Foreman said, "This agreement reflects the respect the major record labels have for their unpaid rights holders. This is a very good result for songwriters and music publishers."
If you think that the record industry owes you any money, right now might be a good time to try to collect your funds, before it's too late.