The Youngbloods and the Allman Brothers Band have filed a class action suit against Sony BMG Music over the amount of royalties paid to BMG artists for digital downloads. The suit mirrors the one filed by the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick last year, which focuses on royalties paid to Sony artists.

The complaint, filed yesterday (Feb. 22) in the federal District Court in New York, quotes portions of the open letter Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs wrote to the music industry earlier this month. Specifically, Jobs wrote that Apple must "license" the right to distribute music from the four major labels.

In both class-action suits, the artists claim that Sony and BMG have been paying royalties on downloads and ringtones as if recordings were sold, resulting in much lower royalties than if they were licensed. Under their recording agreements, recordings that are licensed require payments to artists equal to 50% of the net license fees received.

The Youngbloods claim that they receive about 4.7 cents per download, while the Allman Brothers receive about 10.57 cents per download. Half of the 70 cents typically received by labels would equal artist royalties closer to 35 cents per download.

The bands seek more than $25 million in damages for themselves and for others similarly situated. The Cheap Trick suit is pending.

The suit was filed by Labaton, Sucharow & Rudoff. The law firm and Sony BMG could not immediately be reached for comment.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print