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Thursday, December 10, 2015
Elvis Presley Estate Fighting Sony Over Royalties
Elvis Presley has left the building, but the digital income issues that have bedeviled more contemporary musicians have hardly escaped the King.
His estate is currently battling a subsidiary of Sony Music in Germany over foreign royalties. This month, the four-year-old legal battle spilled into a New York federal court as Elvis Presley Enterprises contends with Sony's corporate structure and intercompany licensing agreements and looks to obtain more documentation on how Presley's musical works have been exploited.
In 1974, Presley entered into a buyout agreement with RCA, terminating all previous agreements between the musician and the record company. As part of that deal, Presley got $2.8 million, and his manager "Colonel" Tom Parker got $2.6 million.
What the King didn't see coming was copyright term extensions that would push back the date when his songs entered the public domain. A lot more revenues would be enjoyed by the owner of such hits as "Love Me Tender" and "Hound Dog." In Germany, for example, where Presley was once stationed as a soldier in the Army and remains popular, the copyright to his songs were once scheduled to expire in the 1990s whereas now they enjoy another twenty to thirty years of protection.