'Weird Al' Yankovic settles $5 million lawsuit with Sony over unpaid digital income

By Daniel S Levine,

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic may be known for making listeners laugh, but his lawsuit against record label Sony was no laughing matter for the “Eat It” singer. This week, Yankovic settled the lawsuit, which had a laundry list of unpaid revenue from Sony, for $5 million in total.

Yankovic and his Ear Booker company first sued Sony Music in May 2012, reports The Hollywood Reporter. He claimed that Sony was treating digital downloads as “sales” instead of “licenses,” a mistake that meant he only earned 15 percent from purchases on iTunes and other digital sites. He should have been paid 50 percent and claimed Sony hadn’t paid him $1.5 million.

That part of the lawsuit is not uncommon, especially after Eminem’s successful fight with Universal Music that defined how labels divide royalties with artists over digital sales. Other artists like James Taylor followed suit.

However, Yankovic’s suit went much further than that. As Spin.com notes, Yankovic claimed that he wasn’t seeing any money from revenue of music videos on YouTube.

THR reports that he cited a deal Sony struck with YouTube that guaranteed its artists revenue, since YouTube was licensing Sony content. He also noted that he wasn’t seeing revenue from Sony’s deals with Spotify and other third parties.

Other claims from Yankovic included getting underpaid for the use of his songs in TV shows and underpaid domestic royalties. Overall, the suit totaled $5 million in damages. The case was dismissed on Monday.

image: Wikimedia Commons


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