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Public Enemy’s Chuck D Files $100M Class-Action Suit Against Universal Music

Public Enemy’s Chuck D has filed a class-action lawsuit against Universal Music Group in U.S. District Court, alleging that the label didn’t pay fully its artists and producers in licensing deals for digital downloads and ringtones.

The suit claims UMG owes its artists “hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties” because of the discrepancies.

According to the suit, Universal’s artists and producers are entitled to 50% of the net receipts from digital downloads and ringtones.

Problem is UMG has treated digital sales like sales of physical product and billed their artists for deductions like CD packaging, which aren’t part of the cost in digital downloads.

Reuters also reports that Chuck D claims under UMG’s current method of accounting, artists and producers receive $80.33 for every 1,000 downloads, when the correct amount should be $315.85 per 1,000.

On the ringtone side of things, the discrepancy is even more drastic. The suit claims that UMG’s current accounting method yields $49.89 per thousand downloads, as opposed to the $660 per 1,000 that the suit claims is actually owed.

Chuck, who claims breach of contract, is demanding a jury trial.