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Public Enemy artist files class-action lawsuit against Universal

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Public Enemy artist Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, stage named Chuck D, has filed a class-action lawsuit against Universal Music Group in a U.S. District Court in Northern California, TheWrap reports.

The complaint states the music company failed to adequately compensate artists and producers for digital download and ringtone licensing deals. The lawsuit claims Universal owes hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties due to accounting discrepancies. Professional liability insurance may cover the cost of Universal's legal fees.

The plaintiff argues that Universal artists and producers should be awarded 50 percent of the sales from digital downloads and ringtones. In addition, the suit suggests Universal short-changed the revenue owed to the plaintiffs by treating the sales as physical products, in which packaging and container expenses are deducted from the sale. However, because these are digital sales, packaging and containers should be considered irrelevant and not deducted from the sale.

"This complaint suffers from serious flaws and weaknesses, not the least of which is that the claims asserted are not appropriate for class treatment. We will vigorously defend against it," Universal said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston denied the Universal's request to dismiss the case.
 

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