Weird Al Settles His $5M Lawsuit Against Sony…

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‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has settled a lawsuit he filed against Sony in March of 2012. His company, Ear Booker, sought $5 million in damages. There’s no word on the actual amount he is receiving from this settlement.

Yankovic included a slew of grievances in his lawsuit:

  • Underpaying income from digital downloads: He says they labeled the downloads as “sales” instead of “licenses”. As a result Sony paid him 15 percent of the generated income instead of 50 percent. This totals to about $1.5 million in losses.
  • No payment from Sony’s equity stake in YouTube: Yankovic claims his popular music videos gave Sony leverage in the agreement.
  • No payment from licensing agreements and settlements: He says he hasn’t seen any money that has flowed to Sony from Spotify, Vevo, Napster, Kazaa, and other services.
  • Improperly charging him for the marketing of various TV specials
  • Underpaid publishing royalties
  • Lack of payment for items given to retailers
  • Improper recording of streams
  • Under-reported income from sync licensing

9 Responses

  1. sychsolis

    Great news. Artists have been getting screwed too much for too long.

  2. David

    Just curious, as many if not all of his songs are recognisable parodies of other people’s songs, does he share songwriting credits and royalties with them?


      Yes he must get permission to parody a song and arrange the royalty split with the original artist , so both get paid

  3. JAG

    I’m torn about the “license” vs “sale” terminology. Not sure the artist deserves 3.5 x they agreed to for physical sales simply because it wasnt agreed to at the time (didnt exist). Then again the stupid record companies should have attempted to work something out before just paying the same rate and assuming no one would say anything (or not caring- not noticing – etc).

    If labels have to pay 50% of all digital rights on back catalog going forward they are up a creek…

    • @JAG

      “If labels have to pay 50% of all digital rights on back catalog going forward they are up a creek…”

      That’s an understatement. The labels are trying to quietly settle any case or audit (e.g. Eminem, Kenny Rogers, Sister Sledge, Rob Zombie etc.) concerning the digital rights “license” for their back catalog artists. Those older contracts only covered sales (i.e. 12-15%) and licenses (50%) and the labels were very clear that digital downloads are licenses. If word gets out, artists can make a boat load of money but, unfortunately, it will likely bankrupt the labels.


      Many older contracts di not account for digital downloads so the line between royalty payment for mechanical sales and licensing are definitely blurred. Licensing used to pertain mostly to foreign releases to labels that would release the recording on their own label usually pay a flat rate for the rights then split 50-50 with the artists .Digital downloads do not require manufacturing so should carry a higher rate on the net revenue since ITunes takes 30%from each sale .

  4. zog

    Gotta be a lawyer and love this waste of time on all sides and you still get paid,what was anyone thinking ,I forgot artist,record company’s don’t hire people to think!

  5. Dave

    I still don’t understand why a sale of an mp3 file is considered a license. The file should be considered a medium just like a physical platter. Can someone explain this to me please? Thanks in advance….!

    • Anonymous

      Labels demand and receive upfront fees from the digital services, in order to provide their catalogues, before any sale is made. Just for the delivery of the catalogue to the service. If they consider a license when to extort money from the services, now they have to consider it licensed material when paying to artists and not sales. Another big bad move from the Labels…. as usual.