Chuck D sues Universal Music Group for underpaid royalties | Music News

Chuck D of Public Enemy has filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group for allegedly underpaying royalties on digital downloads such as MP3s and ringtones, by treating them as “sales” of physical records rather than “licenses.”

According to Billboard, this is not the first case of this kind and comes after a similar action recently brought by Rob Zombie and the estate of Rick James. Chuck D’s lawyers complain in their suit filed in San Francisco federal court, that UMG has underpaid hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties and pointed to a decision in 2010 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that offers some precedent that digital downloads should be treated as “licenses.”

James Pizzirusso, a partner involved in the case said: “Chuck D has been ‘fighting the power’ for over two decades and will continue to do so through this suit in order to help all musicians, including many legacy artists who are living on fixed income”

However, a spokesperson on behalf of Universal Music commented: “This complaint suffers from serious flaws and weaknesses,  not the least of which is that the claims asserted are not appropriate for class treatment. We will vigorously defend against it.”