The Temptations are suing Universal Music in federal court in California, seeking millions of dollars after allegedly being cheated out of revenue from digital downloads and ringtones.

Original member Otis Williams and Ron Tyson, one of the later members, are the latest to join a growing number of musicians who are going to court with allegations that record labels have stiffed musicians by accounting for iTunes downloads as “sales” rather than “licenses,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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There are more than a dozen of these types of lawsuits pending in courts, including eight that were filed in the past 12 months. The latest challenge, similar to what has come already, seeks to punish UMG for attempting to get away with paying pennies on the dollar when artists believe they should be making dimes on the dollar.

The cases are potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the music industry. UMG is about to go to trial with F.B.T. Productions, producers for Eminem.

The new lawsuit from The Temptations, which covers other artists similarly situated, cites the F.B.T. case.

UMG, though, the largest of the record labels, is said to be responsible for 80 percent of downloads in the U.S. As for The Temptations, the complaint asserts that their relationship with UMG is guided by a 1993 agreement that provides 14 to 16 percent of revenue from “sales” after packaging deductions, compared with 50 percent from licensing income.


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