A class action lawsuit filed in New York federal court Sept. 25 alleges that Sony Music Entertainment Inc. underreports streaming revenues in international markets by giving money to subsidiaries that legally should go to the artist.

Beverly Hills attorney Neville Johnson, a longtime lawyer for performers in the entertainment industry, filed the lawsuit, and it could serve as a test case as to whether major record labels are providing artists proper streaming royalty payments.

Streaming has increasingly replaced physical sales as a way for artists to earn money from recorded music.

The named litigant is the estate of Rick Nelson, the 50s-era rock star, suing on behalf of other artists who distribute music through Sony.

The estate contends that the defendant cannot assess “an intercompany charge” for international sales, but “impermissibly takes up to 68 percent off the top of international revenue earned from streaming sales”

The lawsuits calls for New York City-based Sony to stop its current account practices and to award artists outstanding royalty payments.

Media and entertainment reporter Matthew Blake can be reached at (323)556-8332 or mblake@labusinessjournal.com

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