James Taylor Sues Warner Bros For $2 Million Over Digital Royalty Payouts
& Roll Hall of Famer James Taylor is
now in a legal battle with his former label Warner Bros Records for $2 million, claiming that the singer has not been properly compensated for his digital music sales. Along
with Taylor against Warner Bros includes several other high-level musicians
including Peter Frampton, The Temptations, Kenny Rogers and Eminem – all of whom believe that they
should be earning higher royalty rates for their downloaded material.
primary complaint involves the digital sales from online retailers. Warner Bros
essentially treats digital downloads the same as CD sales, but Taylor argues
that the label is licensing tracks to the retailers and should therefore
exercise different payout structures. Warner Bros has signed a single licensing
deal with retailers like Amazon and iTunes, allowing songs to be sold in
While these deals typically provide artists with just 10% of the sales
revenue, licensing deals can allow artists to earn up to 60% of royalties – quite the difference. Taylor's
current rate with Warner Bros is at 50% for digital downloads, but the label
feels that the he should not be eligible for a higher rate.
Taylor left Warner Bros in 1979, he had signed a termination and settlement agreement
with the label, which he believes they have violated. In addition to the
discrepancies with the digital payouts, Taylor and his legal team have alleged
that Warner Bros has not been properly paying royalties for international sales
and has also charged the label with unauthorized use of Taylor’s material from
releases on compilation albums.
of this legal battle stems from a legal case in 2010, where F.B.T. Productions won a ruling where they felt that Eminem's digital sales should
be treated under the licensing provisions of his contract, which sets the
precedent for the case between Taylor and Warner Bros. Since that ruling, a
number of other artists have also filed similar suits including Chuck D, Rob Zombie, and Rick James. Taylor's lawyer, Richard
Busch, has previously represented many artists in similar royalty disputes, which
makes him no stranger to the legal battle at hand.