Shortchanged: In the latest legal conflict involving digital music royalties, members of the Temptations have filed a class action suit against Universal Music Group alleging underpayment for downloads, ringtones and streamed music. The suit, filed March 14 in federal court in Northern California on behalf of the group and like-situated performers, continues a series of actions filed by so-called heritage artists against the major labels. The present breach of contract lawsuit, lodged by Temptations members Otis Williams and Ron Tyson, is the second filed by an act on Motown Records, whose catalog is controlled by UMG. Last April, the estate of the late funk star Rick James became the first to sue UMG claiming underpayment of digital royalties (Daily Variety, April 5, 2011).
Like the James suit, the Temptations’ action was prompted by a September 2010 appellate decision that overturned a jury verdict in a case brought against UMG and others by two firms active in rap star Eminem’s early career. The appeals panel ruled that digital downloads constituted licenses and not sales, and thus were subject to a higher royalty rate for third-party licenses on the works in question. The Temptations were one of Motown’s biggest acts. Their pop and R&B hits of the ’60s and ’70s included such evergreens as “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “I Can’t Get Next to You” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” The vocal group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Williams and Tyson’s action claims that under contracts executed in 1987 and 1993, the group was entitled to royalties of 50% for licenses of its work. According to the suit, the Temptations were dramatically shortchanged on royalty payments, since monies derived from downloads, ringtones and streamed music were computed as sales, rather than licenses, by UMG.
So Long Sheree: After four seasons on the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Sheree Whitfield is saying farewell to Bravo. Appearing alongside NeNe Leakes, Kim Zolciak, Kandi Burruss, Phaedra Parks and Cynthia Bailey on the primetime hit, Whitfield, 42, tells Wetpaint.com she is now a “free agent.” “After four solid seasons of helping Bravo build the show into its most successful Housewives franchise, I have decided to leave,” Whitfield told Wetpaint, which first reported her departure. “The direction the show is going in is no longer a fit for my lifestyle. I’m tired of the fighting and the cattiness.” The ex-wife of former NFL star Bob Whitfield, the mom of three argues that she is just plain over the behavior that has now become commonplace on the series. “I want to be part of something that empowers and inspires women to not only be healthy, but to treat themselves with respect,” says Whitfield, who helms her own clothing line She by Sheree.
Briefly: Grammy winner Mary J. Blige is expected to sing the national anthem at this year’s Kentucky Derby. A statement from Churchill Downs says Blige will sing The Star-Spangled Banner at the Louisville track around 5:10 p.m. on May 5, shortly before the running of the 138th Kentucky Derby ... Former rapper Mase, real name Mason Betha, is said to owe $124,774 in back taxes, according to documents filed in Florida by Internal Revenue Service. The unpaid taxes stem from the years 2000, 2001, and 2004. Ma$e, who got his start on Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, quit music in 1999 to minister the gospel. He returned to secular music with his third album in 2004, “Welcome Back.” The Harlem artist was recently spotted in the studio with various artists.
Finally: F. Gary Gray is in final talks to direct “Straight Outta Compton,” the New Line film that traces the founding of groundbreaking rap group NWA, featuring Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella.
Written by: Precinct Reporter Group
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