Last October, Sony Music, Brown and the Simone estate reached a deal at a settlement conference, but two weeks ago, Sony Music filed a claim in court to rescind the agreement because the other parties allegedly didn't lived up to their side of the bargain. Among other things, Sony said that Brown was taking the position that only reproduction rights had been given to Sony, potentially limiting its exploitation of the singer's music.
On Wednesday, Brown and the Simone estate hit back with copyright infringement claims against Sony and Orchard over more than 80 albums of recorded Nina Simone performances that have been uploaded to digital outlets without authorization.
Brown appears to be alleging that Orchard has gotten its hands on bootlegs of Nina Simone performances and that Sony has decided to look the other way. Orchard is being sued for copyright infringement while Sony is being attacked for allegedly breaching an implied covenant not to do harm to Simone's income from her official albums.
According to his legal papers, "By operating a subsidiary that massively pirates Nina Simone recordings, at price points generally lower than those at which Sony sells her RCA recordings, [this] has the natural tendency to displace Sony's sales, thereby depriving Claimants of the full royalties they would otherwise earn under the New Artist Agreement."
Brown and the Simone estate have lodged an additional eyebrow-raiser in the court papers over Sony's authorization of tribute albums -- or how "Simone's name and likeness" is being used for "recordings made by other recording artists."
Brown and the Simone estate are demanding an injunction that would prohibit Orchard from exploiting Simone's music, a declaration that Sony can't enjoy anything of the $84 million judgment against Stroud's estate, and additional general and exemplary damages over additional claims that cover whether Sony has breached contract. (Much of the direct contract claims have been redacted.)
Sony decided not to comment on the allegation it owns a pirate shop.
This article was first published by The Hollywood Reporter