Radiohead have launched legal action against their former record label over deduction’s made from the band’s income from downloaded music sales in 2008 and 2009.
The High Court permitted the case to go forward earlier this month.
The total deductions taken from the band amount to £744,000 and relate to costs incurred back in 1992 and 1998.
Radiohead’s legal team have argued that these old deductions from new royalty earnings are a breach of contract as the band signed their record deal in the pre-digital age and there was no agreement over costs being recovered from digital earnings.
The key issue at the heart of this case is whether record company’s can legally apply old record contract terms to new revenue streams.
Howard Ricklow, a media lawyer from Collyer Bristow, has made some enlightening comments on the implications of this case:
“It’s virtually impossible for anyone to predict how we’ll be listening to music in ten or 15 years’ time, but it’s certainly possible to honour contractual agreements over royalties for recordings, no matter what format they are in. This case is particularly ironic, given that Parlophone went through very similar legal issues with the Beatles in the 1980s when CDs were a new media format…
“The fact that Radiohead are no longer contracted to Parlophone may well have played a role in how Parlophone has approached this issue – record labels have no reason not to squeeze every penny out of recordings by artists that are not on their roster anymore, especially as the value of recordings continues to fall. The fact that this case is now moving forward may well encourage other artists to mount legal challenges against record labels over their royalty payment practices, but only the biggest acts are likely to have the funds to be able to do it.”
[Rick Harlow quotes sourced from CMU]