The Beatles’ Apple Corps has sued EMI for more than $52.9 million in a row over unpaid record royalties. London-based Apple Corps Ltd. yesterday (Dec. 15) launched proceedings in the High Court in London and New York’s Supreme Court against EMI Records and Capitol Records, respectively.
In a statement issued today from Apple Corps, the label says it took action following a breakdown in negotiations with EMI over the disputed royalties. Other claimants in the two actions are the two surviving Beatles — Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr — and the successors of John Lennon and George Harrison.
“We have tried to reach a settlement through good faith negotiations and regret that our efforts have been in vain,” comments Apple manager Neil Aspinall in the statement. “Despite very clear provision in our contracts, EMI persist in ignoring their obligations and duty to account fairly and with transparency. Apple and the Beatles are, once again, left with no choice but to sue EMI,”
A spokesperson for EMI tells Billboard.biz, “It’s not unusual for artists to conduct audits like this and we have no problem with that as we like full transparency. Sometimes, however, there are differences in opinion. For example, over contractual interpretation. And in those rare situations, the parties may have to resort to the courts or to mediation.” Apple and EMI declined further comment.
A well-placed industry observer says the amount claimed “would represent a tiny percentage of the total royalties that EMI would have paid the band in the period represented.”
It’s not the first time Apple Corps has gone head-to-head in the courts with a major company. In September 2003, Apple Corps sued Apple Computer in the High Court over claims that the computer maker’s iPod portable player and iTunes Music Store violate its trademark.
Apple Corps was created by the Beatles in 1968, and to this day continues to represent the interests of the band. Apple recordings are released under license by EMI.