The Rolling Stones failed today (Nov. 12) to force an audit of the books of Decca Music Group, which they say may not have paid them all the royalties from their “40 Licks” greatest hits album.
A London High Court judge ruled that under terms of a 1976 agreement between Decca and the surviving members of the band — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts — disputes over royalties must be referred to arbitration rather than the courts.
On that basis, Justice Nicholas Pumfrey turned down the Stones’ application for an order forcing Decca to allow an audit of its books. “There is no reason why I should not give effect to the clear choice of an arbitral tribunal by the parties to this agreement,” he said. “These proceedings must be stayed.”
The dispute centers on royalties from “40 Licks,” which includes 1960s hits such as “Paint It, Black” and “Sympathy for the Devil,” the rights to which are still owned by Decca.
Band members say they are entitled to 80% of the royalties from the Decca tracks on the album — which could run into millions of dollars — and say an audit will disclose how much they should be paid.
The Stones were given permission to appeal the High Court’s decision. There was no immediate comment from Decca.
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