Two highly successful rock groups from the 1970s and ’80s recently commenced a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against their former record company, claiming a larger share of revenue derived from paid digital downloads of their recordings. Allman v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment Inc. (Sony), 06 CV 3252. The plaintiffs also seek to represent similarly situated recording artists through certification of the litigation as a class action.

The plaintiffs are the Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick, whose formidable catalogues of recordings remain tremendously popular and continue to fatten the bottom lines of several record companies in addition to the defendant Sony. (Sony is the successor-in-interest to the contracts that the plaintiff artists signed many years ago. Sony thus owns the rights to exploit the master recordings delivered pursuant to those contracts and bears the obligation to account and pay royalties to the artists.)