Mtume is also demanding an accounting on royalties for his copyright interests on the "Juicy" single and the two albums. As well, he is seeking a declaration that the recordings were not created under a work-for-hire agreement and that he is the sole copyright owner of the recordings -- points Sony Music has contested.
According to Mtume's suit, it took Sony Music nearly two years to respond to a termination notice he sent the label in July 2015, which sought to reclaim his ownership of recordings created between 1978 and early 1983, pursuant to an agreement dated June 24, 1977, between Zembu Productions Inc. and Mtume. The music was first released on Epic Records before Zembu Productions assigned its agreement to CBS Records in 1979 ahead of releasing In Search of the Rainbow Seekers the next year. In 1987, CBS was acquired by Sony Music Entertainment, transferring Mtume's rights with it.
Mtume also notes he reached a separate agreement with CBS in October 1983 that has nothing to do with the rights granted under the 1977 agreement.
Sony Music declined to comment.
When Sony Music did respond to Mtume's termination notice on July 21, 2017, it was more than two weeks past the first effective termination date. In the label's letters, which were included as exhibits with the complaint, Sony Music argued Mtume's termination notice was ineffective because the recordings were works made for hire and his notice only related to the albums as whole entities and not their individual tracks. The company also claimed there may be additional potential authors of the songs whose permission would be needed for termination and that the recordings are not subject to termination under Section 203 because they were created pursuant to a grant contained in a 1977 agreement.
Mtume disputes those assertions, calling them "frivolous," and is seeking a declaration that the recordings are terminable, along with accounting of all post-termination income and attorney's fees and costs.