A lawsuit filed by the heirs of The Gap Band members Robert and Ronnie Wilson against BMG Rights Management over alleged unpaid royalties for their credits on the 2014 hit Uptown Funk has been dropped.
As reported by Reuters, according to a document filed in Manhattan federal court last week, the case has been dismissed “without prejudice”.
In January, the heirs of the Gap Band members claimed that BMG had “failed and refused to pay Plaintiffs or account to them for royalties they are obligated to pay Plaintiffs pursuant to a written contract as co-writers of Uptown Funk“.
The Gap Band members, three brothers — Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson – behind the 1979 track, I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops Upside Your Head), were added as co-writers of Uptown Funk in 2015, along with producers Rudolph Taylor and Lonnie Simmons.
They joined the six writers that were already credited in the song: Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, producers Jeff Bhasker and Philip Lawrence, as well as Nicholas Williams (Trinidad James) and Devon Gallaspy, who received credits for the use of a sample of All Gold Everything by Trinidad James.
The original lawsuit, which you can read in full here, stated: “On March 31, 2015, Minder [Music] entered into a written agreement (the ‘2015 Agreement’) with Defendant BMG, Universal Music Corp., Sony/ATV Songs LLC, and Imagem C.V. (collectively the ‘Uptown Funk Parties’) whereby the Uptown Funk Parties assigned 3.4% of the copyright in Uptown Funk to Ronnie Wilson and 3.4% to Robert Wilson as compensation for incorporating the Original Composition into Uptown Funk”.
The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan court on January 12 claimed, however, that BMG “has failed and refused to pay Plaintiffs or account to them for royalties they are obligated to pay Plaintiffs pursuant to a written contract as co-writers of Uptown Funk“.
“There was no settlement agreement and BMG has paid no money in respect of these charges.”
BMG, which already represented Bruno Mars’ share in Uptown Funk, acquired London-based independent music publisher Minder Music and its catalog in July 2015. The acquisition included Minder’s rights in The Gap Band and ownership of publishing rights in Oops Upside Your Head.
“By acquiring Minder, BMG is obligated, by both law and contract, to account for and pay to Robert Wilson and Ronnie Wilson all income received from the Uptown Funk musical composition,” claimed the lawsuit.
BMG clarified in a statement on Tuesday (April 25) that “there was no settlement agreement and BMG has paid no money in respect of these charges.”
“Although [The Gap Band heirs’] allegations were widely reported, they were without merit, as confirmed by the fact that the plaintiffs have now withdrawn their lawsuit,” BMG said.
“BMG takes seriously its commitment to treat artists fairly and transparently and its reputation for doing so.
“Alongside their brother Charlie Wilson – who was not party to the lawsuit – the late Ronnie J. Wilson and Robert Lynn Wilson of The Gap Band were among the most influential musicians of their generation. We honor their memory and are proud to represent many of their music publishing and recording rights.”
“Although [The Gap Band heirs’] allegations were widely reported, they were without merit, as confirmed by the fact that the plaintiffs have now withdrawn their lawsuit.”
The Wilson brothers formed the Gap Band in 1967.
Uptown Funk has made huge success in recent years. it has so far generated more than 1.6 billion streams on Spotify and is the fourth most-viewed music video of all time on YouTube.
Ronson said in a 2015 interview with Billboard: “We didn’t take anything from [The Gap Band‘s Oops Upside Your Head] intentionally or unintentionally.”
In April 2020, Ronson sold a 70% interest in the publishing and writer’s share of his catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund. That catalog includes Uptown Funk.
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