The UK’s Musicians’ Union has announced plans to take the majors to court over the long-disputed issue of digital royalties due for contracts signed before digital music existed, The Guardian reports.
At the core of the issue the percentage of royalties that is paid to artists, which in the case Horace Trubridge - founding member of the Darts and MU Assistant General Secretary - is around 12%. This should, in Trubridge's opinion, be actually around 30%.
Labels calculating royalties based on older contracts still make deductions for breakages and returns of CDs and vinyl: these deductions were normal when physical ruled the royalty statements but are now becoming a simple loophole to reduce the amount paid from digital sales.
The Musicians’ Union is basing its potential case on the breach of the ‘making available’ rights, which were granted in 2001 by the EU. The argument is that the majors never asked for permission to make the works of those heritage artists available online, operating on an ‘assumed assignment’.
The extent of the Musicians’ Union plans to sue is still unknown. The organisation is home to a number of big-name heritage artists, if any of them faces the same issues as Trubridge and decides to jump onboard, that could spell the start of an interesting court battle.
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