Allman Brothers Settle Class Action With Sony Over Digital Downloads

In a much watched lawsuit, the Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick and the Youngbloods reached a settlement with the Sony record label for back payment of digital download royalties. The lawsuit has been in the forefront of the dispute between record labels and recording artists over the treatment of digital download income in respect to contracts signed back before the advent of iTunes and mp3 files. This case was certified as a class action, so potentially the settlement terms could impact recording artists that had deals with Sony (or a predecessor) between 1976 and 2001.

Sony is not alone in facing litigation from artists that signed deals prior 2003 for the license vs sale issue.  The "Eminem Case" of F.B.T. Productions, LLC v. Aftermath Records was the pioneer case in which the Ninth Circuit held a digital download should be treated as a license, entitling an artist to a 50% royalty.

Click here for a running list of lawsuits over the sale vs license issue for digital downloads.