A 2009 trial that pitted early Eminem producers, the Bass Brothers against Aftermath Records for percentage of Eminem’s digital royalties may finally get resolved this month. After bouncing between various appellate courts, the case of F.B.T. Productions LLC versus Aftermath Records will see a second trial. At issue, is whether the Bass Brothers—producers of upwards of a dozen Eminem songs including “97 Bonnie & Clyde,” “Kim” and “Just Don’t Give A Fuck”—are entitled to more than the typical 18-23% royalty split of all of digital downloads.
In at least two previous cases, the courts have ruled in favor of F.B.T. Productions. A 2010 ruling made a distinction between a licensing and a sales provision when determining royalty payments from digital downloading services such as Amazon.com and iTunes. According to sources familiar with the case, those small changes in language could add up to tens of millions of dollars in royalty payments.
“The distinction potentially meant that the Bass brothers were owed a much larger percentage of royalties than they had received,” wrote Eriq Gardner, in an article for The Hollywood Reporter. “Aftermath doesn’t believe that a trial is necessary at all, saying there are no facts in dispute. Despite the 9th Circuit decision, widely seen as a victory for musicians in digital royalty claims, Aftermath is basically declaring victory in this case, pointing to a judge’s order that it is permitted to deduct distribution fees.”
Of course, all of that could potentially change if and when the case goes to trial.