Zombie, Mason, Whitesnake Sue Universal Music Group


Don’t make this man
above angry. All because of that doggone rapper Eminem – such a troublemaker!



By Fred Mills


As expected, more fallout from the Eminem-Universal Music
Group lawsuit, this time involving quite a disparate cast of characters:
goth/metal king Rob Zombie, his band White Zombie, ‘80s hairspray metal combo
Whitesnake, and ‘70s classic rocker Dave Mason have joined forces in a
class-action lawsuit against UMG alleging they are owed considerable sums of
money for sales of digital downloads and ringtones.


Recall that not long ago a US Appeals court ruled against UMG and held that digital downloads count as “licenses”
as opposed to straightforward “sales” and thus quality the rights-holders to
the songs (in this instance, Eminem) for a higher royalty rate – typically 50%
as opposed to 15%. The US Supreme Court subsequently refused to hear UMG’s
appeal, leaving the lower appeals court’s ruling to stand. Then this past April
the estate of Rick James
filed a class-action suit against UMG; the suit has
yet to be litigated.


The New York Times is reporting that
Zombie, Whitesnake and Mason’s suit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court
(San Francisco),
alleges “their record company violated their contracts by counting a digital
download as a sale instead of a licensing, which would result in a
substantially higher royalty… The class-action suit accuses Universal, the
world’s largest music company, of unfair business practices by knowingly
miscalculating royalties. The suit claims the label ‘analyzed internally the financial
consequences of its misconduct and cast it in terms of the additional profit to
be made by UMG by avoiding its contractual obligations.'”


The amount UMG might have to cough up should the suit proceed and be won by
the plaintiffs is estimated to be in the area of “tens of millions of dollars
or more each year.”


UMB, not surprisingly, issued a statement pledging to “vigorously defend”
against the lawsuit, which the label deems to have “serious flaws and


Uh-huh. Like we suggested at the top, industry observers have been
predicting for months that a wave of lawsuits would come in the aftermath of
the Eminem case
. Some artists, such as Cheap Trick,
have apparently already settled out of court with their labels; another prominent artist filing a suit against its label was the Allman Brothers.


That stampeding
sound you hear in the distance? It’s thousands of lawyers, galloping to their
fax machines, preparing to send out documents to their clients and to their
clients’ labels….

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