How to File a Music Royalties Lawsuit

What do Eminem, the White Stripes, and the late Bing Crosby have in common? Here’s a hint: it’s not a shared taste for freestyle rap. The answer is that they’ve all won music royalty lawsuits in the past few years.

A personal injury lawsuit may be filed for the use of someone’s original music without proper payment to the writer or performer, or one could be filed if someone has obviously stolen another’s song.

Filing a Music Royalties Claim

If you have been victimized by the unlawful use of your music, you may be able to initiate a lawsuit simply by getting in touch with a local injury attorney. In addition, if you know other musicians who have had similar problems with the same abuser, you could potentially pool your resources and file a class action suit.

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As for the nuts and bolts of a music royalties lawsuit, a recent case provides a helpful example:

  • Isley Brothers Lawsuit. A few years ago, the Isley Brothers, a popular R&B group, sued singer-songwriter Michael Bolton for allegedly stealing their song, Love is a Wonderful Thing, without paying royalties to the Isleys.
  • The claim. The Isleys claimed that Bolton’s song of the same title was substantially similar to the Isleys’ 1966 hit.
  • Big Verdict. Even though Bolton claimed he was unaware of the similarities, the jury awarded the Isley Brothers $5.4 million.

As shown in the Isley Brothers trial, a key element in a music royalties lawsuit will be the similarity between the original song and the allegedly unlawful work.

Another Type of Musical Royalty Lawsuit

Not every performer has their work stolen by a famous musician. A more common type of lawsuit occurs when a musician’s work is used by a club or a radio station without the payment of proper fees.

Here’s another scenario that may lead to a personal injury settlement:

  • If an artist has copyrighted a song, it cannot usually be played in a commercial venue, like a nightclub, unless the music’s user obtains permission to use the songs through a licensing agreement.
  • Licensing agreements typically require the payment of a fee. For example, many nightclubs pay an annual fee to be able to use a particular musician’s songs. Organizations that collect royalty fees from music-oriented venues include BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP.
  • If the nightclub fails to pay this fee to the artist or one of the organizations listed above, it has broken its licensing agreement and has become vulnerable to a music royalties lawsuit.

If you believe that you have not received proper royalties for your music, you may want to learn more about your legal options.

To obtain a free consultation with a local injury lawyer today, simply fill out the brief form below.

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