Rick James' estate is suing his former record label for allegedly paying far fewer royalties than it says it's owed.
In a class-action suit filed in San Francisco, the "Super Freak"'s estate claims Universal Music Group is cheating artists out of "tens of million dollars" every year by giving them only a fraction of the revenues from digital downloads and ringtones.
The dispute centers on the issue of music sales versus music licenses. The record company says that digital songs and ringtones count as sales, which allow it to pay some artists less in royalties than if those were considered licenses.
But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Eminem -- yes, Marshall Mathers! -- last month in finding that the company should treat downloads and ringtones as licenses, paying artists a higher royalty rate.
James' estate's lawsuit says the company is now ignoring that ruling. UMG says the ruling set no precedent and that it will not alter its policies.
Check out the full story on our news blog, the Snitch.
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