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'American Idol' stars file lawsuit against Sony for underpaying royalties

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As "American Idol" season 13 gets underway, it is not the current contestants who are making a splash. Entertainment Weekly reported on Feb. 21, some former stars are joining in on a lawsuit against Sony Music.

According to the report, "American Idol's" house record label 19 Recordings is suing the giant music company in a lawsuit that focuses on issues in accounting. With some of "American Idol's" biggest stars on board, like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken and many others, the record label is claiming that Sony Music cheated the artists out of royalties worth millions of dollars.

The $10 million in damages that the label and artists are suing for is not something they wanted to have to do says Jason Morey, 19 Entertainment's Worldwide Head of Music.

"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. Everything we have to say about the case is set forth in it."

The suit claims that Sony improperly deducted money spent on TV advertising and music videos, while at the same time not paying the proper royalties on compilation albums, claiming "compilation albums are not albums." The suit also alleges that Sony treated master recordings streams on services such as Spotify as "sales" or "distributions" instead of "broadcasts" or "transmissions". The wording and filing played a large part in just how much the company had to pay under the terms of its recording agreements.

Sony Music has yet to respond to the lawsuit, but whatever the outcome, it will have an effect on future dealings between the label, record company and future "American Idol" stars.

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