Artists Win $15M From Universal Music Over Digital Downloads

A four-year court battle has ended in the favour of a group of musicians who sued Universal Music Group, saying their royalties were being unfairly calculated for downloads of songs and albums through digital services like iTunes.

AFP reports that the settlement, worth US$11.5 million ($15 million), validates the artists’ claim that digital downloads of their music should have been classified as ‘licences’ rather than ‘sales’, and therefore eligible for a significantly higher portion of royalties.

Musicians like Public Enemy’s Chuck D and English band Whitesnake were behind the suit, but all artists with a contract with Universal, as well as Universal’s sub-agency Capitol Records, can apply for a share of the settlement funds. This settlement comes at a time when artists like Taylor Swift are pulling their music off streaming services like Spotify, and moguls like Jay-Z are setting up new services like TIDAL that focus more on musicians’ side of the story — and, through charging users more, divert more revenue to them.

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