Bing Crosby Royalty Suit Heads To Court
A lawsuit accusing Universal Music Group of underpaying royalties on Bing Crosby's recordings is scheduled for a Nov. 5 hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit, which seeks $16 million, was brA lawsuit accusing Universal Music Group of underpaying royalties on Bing Crosby's recordings is scheduled for a Nov. 5 hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit, which seeks $16 million, was brought by the heirs of Crosby, who died in 1977 at the age of 73.
Filed in July 2000, the suit alleges that the singer, who did most of his recording for Decca Records from the 1930s through the 1960s, negotiated a deal calling for royalties on all songs recorded before 1949 be paid at a rate of 15 percent of their wholesale price. Royalties for recordings made after that date were to be paid at 7 percent of their retail price. Decca was subsequently acquired by MCA and Universal Music. According to the lawsuit an audit showed Universal was paying royalties of 7 percent on all Crosby recordings.
"The numbers are large," Crosby family attorney Mark Brodka said this week. Universal Music declined to comment, saying the company does not discuss pending litigation.
Brodka said the claims in the Crosby estate lawsuit are "remarkably similar" to allegations made in another lawsuit against Universal Music brought by singer Peggy Lee in 1999, for underpayment of royalties on a Decca contract. That action remains unresolved.
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