Sony sued by US musicians for ‘violating collective agreement’

The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), which represents around 80,000 professional musicians, has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment for ‘repeatedly violating its collective bargaining agreement’.

Among the alleged contract violations cited in the suit is recording work on Michael Jackson’s This Is It, a 2009 film documenting Jackson rehearsing and preparing for live concerts shortly before his death.

The suit states that Sony called musicians for a recording session claiming it was for a “record” when the actual purpose was to lay down a film score for This Is It.

It says that records are defined as CDs, records, tapes, music videos, and concert DVDs in AFM’s Sound Recording Labor Agreement.

The Sound Recording Labor Agreement, which Sony has signed, covers only recording sessions for records — and prohibits recording film scores.

As a result, musicians have been unable to collect residuals on the soundtrack to the This Is It movie.

“We did not want to go to court, but sony repeatedly refused to do the right thing and pay musicians fairly.”

Ray Hair, AFM

AFM International President Ray Hair said that Sony could have signed a letter allowing them to use the AFM Motion Picture Agreement for this recording session, but Sony refused.

“A fan may wonder what difference it makes if musicians record music under one contract versus another, but it makes a huge difference to musicians trying to earn a living.

“Musicians have joined together to create industry standards and it is simply unacceptable for greedy corporations to knowingly violate those standards by denying residuals,” said Hair.

The suit also charges Sony with refusing to make new use payments on a number of other projects including Pitbull’s 2012 version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and sampling of Jackson songs like “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror” in This Is It.

“We did not want to go to court, but Sony repeatedly refused to do the right thing and pay the musicians fairly,” said Hair.

The AFM is seeking breach of contract damages, including the payment of wages and benefits that should have been paid to musicians.

You can read the full lawsuit through here.Music Business Worldwide

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