Sony Music Entertainment has escalated a royalties dispute with the Dixie Chicks by suing the popular country act for breach of contract. A complaint filed yesterday (July 17) in federal court in Manh

Sony Music Entertainment has escalated a royalties dispute with the Dixie Chicks by suing the popular country act for breach of contract. A complaint filed yesterday (July 17) in federal court in Manhattan accused the Dixie Chicks of trying to leave Sony on "sham" claims that they've been underpaid.

Sony lawyers asked the court to enforce the current contract and bar Emily Robison, Martie Seidel, and Natalie Maines from signing with another label. A call to attorneys for the Dixie Chicks was not immediately returned.

Since signing with Sony in 1997, the group has recorded two albums -- "Wide Open Spaces" and "Fly" -- selling 15 million records worldwide, the complaint said. Sony claims the contract calls for up to four more albums. "Fly" is No. 99 on The Billboard 200 in its 97th week on the chart.

Despite being paid millions of dollars, the Dixie Chicks demanded the company renegotiate their contract for millions more, the suit said. Talks broke off last week when the group announced it was leaving the label based on what the suit describes as false claims Sony was withholding royalties.

"The purported termination is based upon entirely trumped up and baseless claims," the suit said.


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