Public Enemy's Chuck D Sues Universal For Unpaid Digital Royalties

The rap veteran claims that hundreds of millions of dollars have been withheld.

Public Enemy’s Chuck D has filed suit against Universal Music Group for underpaying royalties on digital downloads.

According to Billboard.biz, the veteran rapper filed a class action suit against the label in San Francisco, California, alleging that “UMG routinely miscalculates the royalties owed to artists for digital downloads, such as MP3s and ringtones, by treating them as ‘sale’ of physical records rather than ‘licenses.’”

Chuck D’s lawyers at Hausfeld LLP say that hundreds of millions of dollars have been withheld, motioning to a 2010 decision for digital downloads to be treated as “licenses.”

"Chuck D has been 'fighting the power' for over two decades and will continue to do so through this suit in order to help all musicians, including many legacy artists who are living on fixed incomes," said James Pizzirusso, a partner at Hausfeld.

"This complaint suffers from serious flaws and weaknesses, not the least of which is that the claims asserted are not appropriate for class treatment," responded a UMG spokesperson.

RELATED: Lil Jon & Public Enemy's Chuck D To Appear On Meat Loaf's Upcoming Album

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15 Comments

  • Nico 3

    No judge in his right mind is going to award Chuck D hundreds of millions of dollars. Old contracts expire, and unless you own your music, people aren't going to call you up and ask if you'd like a cut.

  • Hypestyle

    Jay Z, Ludacris, Kanye, Eminem, Ross, Lil Wayne, Drake, T.I., Snoop, Game, take notice.. I wonder how many establishment rappers who swear that they are gangsters, hustlers, rebels, eff the system, etc., will be willing to co-sign on this class action lawsuit, and actually work on something substantive to change how the industry works, instead of basically going with the flow of the imbalanced contracts, complaining to the press occaisonally, but never really doing anything about it.. Rappers invest more in their cars and jewelry than any kind of infrastructure to ensure legacy wealth for their children. A lot of rappers' attorneys have their own kids and grandkids college funds on lock, but the rappers themselves can't say the same. Too many will write this lawsuit off as "player hating" either because they don't have the intellectual capacity to understand it or the moral courage to follow through with it.. Jimmy Iovine (Interscope/Universal), Clive Davis(Arista/J/BMG), L.A. Reid(ex-Def jam now Sony), Barry Weiss (Jive/Sony), Howard Stringer (sony), Charles Allen (EMI), Roger Faxon (EMI), Edgar Bronfman Jr. (Warner) and Stephen Cooper (Warner) are all cashing mad checks and living in gated communities, directly or indirectly profiting off the tales of street mayhem that some rappers and their fans feel that they have to live by..

  • Anonymous

    Ever since Eminem & FBT won that lawsuit, everybody is filing these digital points claims Eric Clapton, Rick James Family, Rob Zombie, etc etc.......

  • Shone Jones

    Chuck has always been sue-happy. Just another hustle.

    • Anonymous

      If UMG knew they should be treated as licenses since 2010 and it's almost 2012, I would ask where my paper is at too. Who's the real hustler here? Chuck do be taking it to court though.

  • Anonymous

    Chuck D is the man in the hip hop movement!

  • Wayne Is Lord

    Chuck D sit yo old bitch made ass down. bitter because ur time is up. i hope ur faggot ass lose. fuck boy.

    • Knockitoff

      Betcha wouldn't have the GUTS to say that to his face....not only would your jaw be wired shut...but your "typing arm" would be in cast......

    • uponeverysession

      @wayne is lord.. you the one on that fuckboy shit son!!! all he is doing is talking about getting his money right for him and others. this is good for all musicians and artists who arent getting paid their dues

    • ohword

      its dudes like you that make people think hip hop is dying. you favorite rappers unborn grandkids favorite rapper is chuck d. have you heard a public enemy song? check your facts, son, dont be a dumbass

    • young lord

      Gay hip hop is dying

    • Mr D

      Why dont you try to EDUCATE yourself. Chuck D is a legend. We need more like him.

  • Rachael Misek

    Dark Kabal has limited days to its profiting ways.

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