Having hacked off consumers by its use of security-flawed CD copy-protection, Sony, it would seem, is potentially at legal odds with most of its recording artists for massively underpaying royalties on tracks being sold by legal download.
Two groups, the Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick, have started a class-action suit against Sony Music in a Manhattan federal court that will, they hope, draw in up to 2,500 other artists. The suit claims that Sony Music is deducting costs that should only apply to the physical sale of CDs and not downloads. Sony, the suit states, is deducting for packaging, breakages and stock returns! As a result, the bands say, they're getting less than five cents per track instead of the near-30 cents they're due.
What's not clear is whether Sony Music is alone in the way in which it pays band-royalties for download-music sales or whether other labels do things the same way. Doubtless, though, musicians around the world - irrespective of who they're signed to - will now be taking a close look at their contracts and the paperwork relating to past royalty cheques and talking to their accountants and lawyers.
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