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ON THE ROAD TO LITIGATION
Estate of Bing Crosby Sues for $16 Mil in Royalties, Case of Minute Maid Orange Juice
The lawsuit filed by the estate of Bing Crosby against Universal Music Group will reach the hearing stage next month, reports Variety.

The suit, which was filed last year in the Santa Monica branch of L.A. Superior Court, alleges that the family has been cheated out of $16 million in royalties. The plaintiffs—the estates of Crosby and his first wife Wilma Wyatt (the actress known as Dixie Lee, who died in 1952)—are documents, primarily a series of e-mail messages, they expect will support their breach of contract claims.

Crosby recorded for Decca Records under two major contracts. (Decca was later acquired by MCA Records and then subsequently folded into Universal.) According to Variety, on songs recorded before 1949, Crosby was to receive a royalty rate of 15% of the wholesale price; on songs after that date, 7% of the retail price.

Following an audit, the Crosby estate informed Universal that it was paying 7% royalties on all songs, instead of 15% on pre-1949 songs, Variety reports. UMG claimed that the royalty rate had been contractually changed in 1948. The plaintiffs claim there never was a 1948 agreement.

One subject of the upcoming hearing is a series of email messages pertaining to the supposed 1948 contract, which Universal claims are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

UMG currently has a couple of other pending lawsuits, including another royalty-related suit (a class action suit brought by singer Peggy Lee on behalf of all artists who performed for Decca) and a pair from Courtney Love (hitsdailydouble, 2/28 & 6/29).

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