A 2007 lawsuit filed against Universal Music Group involving Hip-Hop megastar Eminem will finally go to trial today (February 24) over alleged downloading proceeds owed to the rapper.
Representing Eminem in the case is publishing company F.B.T. Productions.
The grievance revolves around what percentage of digital royalties Eminem should receive when Universal sells his music to third party networks, like the popular iTunes service.
Additionally, other proceeds like ringtones sales from phone companies are in question.
The claims made by FBT Productions are completely meritless and we look forward to presenting our side in court, UMG told AllHipHop.com in a statement today (February 24).
In the lawsuit, the entity claims Dr. Dres Aftermath is withholding $1.3 million in royalties, and violating the Detroit emcees 1998 contract that guarantees him 50% of established royalties from all music sales.
Although the pending trial does not involve a large amount of money, a winning judgment could potentially empower artists who normally receive the smallest revenue share from the music they create.
Currently, record labels have been selling artist downloads to thirds parties as distribution deals, which significantly lower any royalties due to them.
However, if the courts rule in favor of Eminem, these sales would now be viewed as licensing agreements, which normally entitle artists to an equal 50/50 split of royalties.
With the music industry moving exclusively to downloading, this potential breakthrough would be a literal difference of millions of dollars to musicians worldwide.
Because downloading is a relatively new development in the music industry, there is no precedent for the Central District Court of California to fall back on when interpreting the laws.
Universal Music Group holds some of the most lucrative catalogues in the industry, such as The Eagles, Nirvana, Dr. Dre, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Nas, Lil Wayne, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Aerosmith, and many others acts spanning all genres of music.
At press time, Eminem is not expected to appear.
However, Apple President Steve Jobs and Interscope-Geffen-A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine are named in the lawsuit and will testify.