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Class-Action Suit by Zombies Puts UMG in Fear
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The Universal Music Group’s motion to dismiss the class-action suit brought by Rob Zombie and his band White Zombie was denied by the court on April 19. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston refused to toss the pair of class action suits over digital rights filed by Rob and his band. Rick James estate, Whitesnake and Dave Mason are also plaintiffs in the lawsuits. The class-action suits by Zombies would now move to trial; the attorneys for the plaintiffs are determined to obtain class-certification on all counts.

The action started when last April the Rick James estate filed a class action against UMG claiming that the royalties for digital downloads had been wrongfully calculated by the company. The lawsuit claimed that digital downloads such as ringtones could not be accounted as sales but have to be accounted as licenses. The Zombies filed their class-action suit in May. Since then, more than a dozen lawsuits on the same issue have been filed against UMG.

In September 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had held in a case filed by F.B.T. Productions against UMG that digital royalties should be computed as licenses. The decision opened a floodgate with original creators filing for remedy.


Since the precedent established by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave little leeway to UMG against the class-actions, it had made a desperate bid for a summary judgment and have the actions dismissed. The case by F.B.T. that was decided in the Ninth Circuit was against UMG imprint Aftermath. F.B.T. had handled Eminem in his early years.

Artists have been traditionally mishandled over the civilization of mankind with middlemen finding continually innovative methods to deny the rights and payments of original creators. The present case is only one among a multitude of such cases in current times.

Of recent, even the heirs of the creators of Superman, Siegel and Sushter, have moved the courts for redress. After buying the rights to Superman at a sum of $412, 74 years back, DC Comics and Warner Bros are in court trying to cling on to the rights of the iconic comic book hero. The heirs of Siegel have already been ordered to 50% of the rights while the heirs of Sushter continue their battle.

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