A legendary Connecticut soul singer is suing Sony Music Entertainment in U.S. District Court for failing to pay her royalties when it allowed Christina Aguilera to sample one of her songs.
Betty Harris-Clemons, a Middletown resident who is now in her 70s, claims in a lawsuit filed Friday that the record company sampled her song “Nearer to You” on Christina Aguilera’s “Back to Basics” CD.
Aguilera sampled Harris-Clemons song “Nearer to You” at the beginning of her song “Understand.”
Click here to listen to the two versions of the song.
The lawsuit filed by Harris-Clemons attorney Ken Krayeske claims the defendant never licensed “Nearer to You” and was aware of the infringement before the CD was released.
According to the lawsuit, Sony initially agreed to pay a royalty rate of five cents per use for the sample, but has refused to pay because “an undisclosed claimant allegedly has the rights to the song.”
The lawsuit says Sony has been putting the royalties in a sample account, which contained $170,384 in royalties, but Krayeske argues the amount should be far higher considering album sales and performances.
“At five cents per copy, the Sample Account should have a minimum of $250,000 since ‘Back to Basics’ sold more than five million copies worldwide,” the lawsuit says. “The Sample Account should contain performance royalties. Christina Aguilera performed the song ‘Understand’ with its sample of ‘Nearer to You’ at least 80 times during her global concert tour of at least 80 shows in 2006 and 2007.”
The lawsuit argues the account should also contain DVD royalties because a video of a 2008 performance was featured on a DVD that sold more than 100,000 copies.
The lawsuit asks for payment of royalties and an accounting of the sales derived from the sample.