Universal must pay digital royalties

A new court decision in the United States concerning the career of Eminem could have wider ramifications for the music industry.

Eminem is a towering icon in American music. Transcending hip hop, the Detroit star is perhaps the first rapper to pack out stadiums, drawing a record crowd to the main stage at T In The Park this summer.

Making his name before the digital age really got under way, Eminem is an old fashioned idol whose fame cannot perhaps be matched due to the dilution of the internet.

Yet the internet is at the centre of a new court case. FBT Productions initially signed the young rapper, who recorded a series of tracks with them in the late 90s. An agreement signed at the time appears to over rule aspects of Eminem's deal with Universal.

Taken to court, the entertainment giant has now lost the landmark case. Papers filed at the District Court for the Central District of California showed that Judge Silverman ruled in favour of FBT in a dispute over online royalties.

Previously, FBT were given a small slice of online royalties, with the deal being signed before the mammoth rise in digital music sales. Taking Universal to court, the Detroit company are now in for a massive pay day.

The initial deal was signed in 1995, before Eminem was snapped up by Universal in 1998. Read the documents signed by Judge Silverman HERE.

Universal won the initial case back in March, but FBT took the row to appeal. Judge Silverman said in the court papers: "FBT reasserts that the Masters Licensed provision unambiguously applies to permanent downloads and mastertones. We agree that the contracts are unambiguous and that the district court should have granted summary judgment to FBT."

The ruling has wider implications for similar documents drawn up by major labels before the explosive rise in the online market.

Eminem has not commented on the case.

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