Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Nov 3, 2012

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Well-known rapper, Eminem’s, production company has recently settled a long-running legal battle with the artist’s music label over digital download sales.

A String of Legal Actions

The legal undertaking began in 2007 when Eminem’s production company, FBT, filed a lawsuit against his label, Aftermath Records, and parent company, Universal Music Group, according to reports. FBT’s claim was that the sale of Eminem’s songs through downloads, on iTunes for example, should be licensed to the artist and not a sale item for the label. The rapper’s contract stipulates that he receives 50 percent of royalties from a licensed song, but only 12 percent from an individual sale. 

Then, in 2009, FBT’s attempt to show that Eminem should get half of what the record label receives from downloads, was rejected by a jury. However, a federal appeals court overturned this verdict in 2010 after determining that the previous judge should have granted a pre-trial ruling that the artist’s license agreement included downloads and not just records sold. 

The following year, in 2011, Eminem’s producers filed a motion, which was rejected by a federal judge, asking for $1.5 million in damages from Universal. But at this time, although it was determined that Universal Music Group would owe damages to FBT, an amount had not been decided upon.

The Case Is Finally Settled

Details of the recent settlement have not been published. However, if it means the difference between Eminem being paid 50 percent in royalties versus 12 percent for each sale, it could mean a large settlement for the rapper and his production company. With the case evading trial, reports say an agreeable conclusion has been met.

This issue has been hot in the music industry in recent years, and many would agree that this lawsuit is a landmark case. Other artists have followed suit, filing legal actions for millions of dollars for download sales of their work. This outcome could change how intellectual property law governs the relationship between musicians and their labels for years to come.

Click these links for information and advice on Music Law and Intellectual Property issues.