Childish Gambino and Glassnote Records End Bitter Legal Fight with Out-of-Court Settlement

Donald Glover’s bitter fight with Glassnote Records has come to a surprisingly amicable end.

Donald Glover – better known as Childish Gambino – has finally settled his long-running legal battle with former indie label, Glassnote Records.

Glassnote had preemptively filed against Glover back last July.  The move came in response to accusations the label has stolen SoundExchange’s non-interactive streaming licenses.  The label stated that it had paid $8 million in royalties since 2011 to Glover, with another $2 million payment expected last year.

Glassnote had asked the US District Court for the Southern District of New York to preemptively determine whether it owed Gambino approximately $1.5 million.

Glassnote’s ‘preemptive strike’ asserted that, as the rightful copyright owner, the label is entitled to approximately 50% of all streaming non-interactive royalties, with 45% allocated for Glover and 5% for non-featured artists like backup singers and producers.  These remain the conditions under current US Copyright Law.

Yet, in the ugly legal battle, both sides had made serious accusations and threats against the other.

In a counter-suit filed last September, Gambino alleged Glassnote engaged in willful and malicious royalty fraud.

Despite making millions of dollars for Glassnote, attracting notoriety, interest, and cache for the label, and securing multiple Grammy nominations and awards, Glassnote refuses to account and pay to DJR royalties that it collected on DJR’s behalf, in breach of its warranties, representations, and covenants under the License Agreement.

He had released three albums through the indie label.

Glassnote, on the other hand, accused Glover of remaining “unsatisfied” with receiving millions of dollars, the fair share amount.

Apparently unsatisfied with the approximately $10 million in royalties already paid or due to him by Glassnote and the 45% of the public performance royalties from SoundExchange … [Glover] has continued to demand from Glassnote payments corresponding to SoundExchange royalties which he’s legislatively and contractually precluded from receiving.”

This had the makings of a multi-year war, though the guns have somehow gone silent.

In an unexpected stipulation filed last Friday at the US District Court in the Southern District of New York, both sides quietly agreed to drop their respective lawsuits.  Both Gambino and Glassnote will pay their own attorneys’ fees.

The filing came after Gambino and Glassnote reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.


Featured image by Donald Glover (YouTube screengrab).


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