Jan 17, 2023

Lack of Funk in Royalty Dispute

We have written many times on copyright claims against well-known songs and artists. One of the most famous of these is Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson, which has been the subject of four separate lawsuits alleging copyright infringement. One of these was brought by the heirs of Robert and Ronnie Wilson who were known as the ‘Gap Band’ in 2015. The claim was that Uptown Funk was based on their song ‘Oops Upside Your Head’.

As part of a settlement agreement, the brothers were credited as co-writers on the song which entitles their heirs to a share of the royalties from the song. The agreement stated that each brother would be entitled to 3.4% of the royalties.

A new lawsuit has now been filed by the heirs alleging that BMG, the publishers of Uptown Funk, have withheld the royalties that are due to them under the agreement. It is also claimed that BMG has withheld the accounting information they are required to disclose to allow the amount of royalties to be calculated. For their part, BMG has said that they have not received any papers and so cannot comment on the substance, but that they are very confident in their position.

This is yet another example of the increasingly litigious world of music copyright infringement but it is a cautionary tale for business generally. It highlights the importance of having a clear agreement in place when entering into a license, with robust reporting requirements. In addition to this of course you must also have the resources to enforce any breach of agreement.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: Case Law, Consumer Law, Copyright, EU/International, Legal News, News

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