Warner/Chappell Says EMI Is Underpaying Royalties in New Lawsuit

The 20th Century Fox film-music catalog is at the center of the royalties row.
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The latest music-industry royalties dispute pits two of the industry's pre-eminent publishers against one another, as Warner/Chappell is suing EMI for allegedly only paying half the royalties it owes on the 20th Century Fox catalog.

Warner says a preliminary audit indicates EMI has underreported and underpaid Warner by 50 percent of the royalties due under their agreement.

The relationship involving the Fox catalog begins in 1936, according to the complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Warner acquired it in 1982 when it bought 20th Century Music. EMI in the early '90s acquired Robbins, Feist & Miller, which was the original counterpart to Fox's 1936 deal. (Read the full background in the complaint.)

Warner is asking the court for an order directing EMI to account for all money outstanding, due and payable under their agreements — not limited to the Fox catalog. Because EMI administers Warner's share in other catalogs, including compositions by Curtis Mayfield and Kool and the Gang, Warner wants an accounting of those royalties too.

EMI has not yet commented on the complaint.

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