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Universal Music Group and Capitol Records Under Fire As Artists File Suit Demanding Class Action Status

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NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) – A group of nine artists is suing Universal Music Group (UMG) and Capitol Records to regain control of their masters.

First filed in February 2019, the new motion on April 15th asks District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan to certify classes comprised of more than two hundred musical groups and solo artists. The case is led by singer John Waite of “Missing You” fame and others over U.S. copyright law’s “termination right.” The right is supposed to give artists a way to regain control of their old music. Waite and others allege in the suit that UMG has ignored that obligation, not returning the masters to artists when requested.

If Judge Kaplan certifies the case as a class action, it will allow numerous other artists to join the suit. The motion filed on Friday reads, “Defendants have been holding the artists’ rights hostage and have deprived the artists of the ability to reclaim their rights.” However, the labels argue that most sound recordings aren’t subject to the termination rule, unlike the actual musical composition. The label’s argument falls under the idea that recordings are “works for hire,” meaning the label creates them and hires artists to contribute to them, leaving the works in the hands of the label forever.

Another case against Sony Music Entertainment was filed the same day (by the same attorneys) and is being led by New York Dolls lead singer David Johansen. That case is paused for mediation until May 18. The full motion can be read below.


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