[tweetmeme] [fbshare type=”button”] Yet another story to make indie artists gloat, and be on the alert. Elvis Presley’s estate is suing Arista Music in Germany for $9m (£5.6m) in unpaid royalties dating back to 9 years for ringtones, downloads and apps.
It also alleges the label, then called RCA, exploited Presley in a $5.4m (£3.3m) 1973 buyout of his catalogue.
The Presley estate claims that, as a result of the contract, Presley went on to receive $10 (£6) a year for worldwide rights to each of more than 1,000 recordings ,and wants a share of future revenue.
Arista’s owner, the Sony Corporation, did not comment.
Under the 1973 agreement, the then RCA, bought the rights to Presley’s back catalogue – with the $5.4m fee split evenly between the singer and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, according to legal papers.
The Presley estate says the singer’s annual payment for each song of about $10 is “conspicuously disproportionate” to the revenue RCA made from master recordings.
As well as demanding $9m (£5.6m) in unpaid royalties, the estate also wants a share of future revenue until 2023 – 50 years after the deal was struck and the year when Arista’s copyright expires under German law.
The estate says it wants “equitable remuneration”.
Under the country’s copyright laws, German courts have the power to redress disproportionate deals with more equitable terms.
Leslie Perrin, chairman of British firm Calunius Capital, which is assisting the estate, said Germany was responsible for 10% of the singer’s sales in the world and was “Elvis crazy”.
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