'American Idol' lawsuit claims Sony owes Kelly, Carrie, others royalties

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Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As a wise old prophet once said, music makes the people come together. But an even older, even wiser prophet warns us that money is the root of all evil.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that American Idol‘s house record label 19 Recordings is suing Sony Music for allegedly cheating its artists — including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, and plenty of others you barely remember — out of royalties worth millions of dollars.

“We did not want to have to file this lawsuit, but Sony left us no choice, so this became necessary to protect our artists. Our complaint lays out the claims in great detail,” says Jason Morey, 19 Entertainment’s Worldwide Head of Music, in a statement. “Everything we have to say about the case is set forth in it.”

The suit focuses mainly on issues of accounting. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint accuses Sony of treating master recordings streamed on services such as Spotify as “sales” or “distributions” rather than “broadcasts” or “transmissions,” allowing the company to pay significantly less than it should under the terms of its recording agreements. It also alleges that Sony has improperly deducted money spent on TV advertising and music videos and that it has not paid proper royalties on compilation albums — attempting “to state compilation albums are not albums” — among other things. It seeks at least $10 million in damages.

When reached by EW, Sony declined to comment on the suit.

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