Apple Records launches royalties lawsuit against EMI...again

Apple Records is once again suing EMI Group, claiming that an audit has revealed the company owes the Beatles more than $50 million US in unpaid royalties.

The record label owned by the Beatles is once again suing EMI Group, claiming an audit reveals EMI owes the band more than $50 million US in unpaid royalties.

On Thursday, Apple Records — which is owned by surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and the families of George Harrison and John Lennon — launched legal action in the High Court in London against EMI Group and in the Supreme Court in New York against EMI subsidiary Capitol Records.

Apple Records said in a statement that an audit has determined EMI had not been fulfilling its contract and that the legal action is the result of a breakdown in negotiations between the two sides.

"Despite very clear provisions in our contract, EMI persist in ignoring their obligations and duty to account fairly and with transparency. Apple and The Beatles are, once again, left with no choice but to sue EMI," the company said, adding the claim that it is owed 30 million pounds (about $53 million US).

EMI owns the copyright, in perpetuity, to recordings made by the Beatles.

An EMI spokesperson has declined comment on the litigation, but said that artists requesting an audit of their record label's accounts are "not unusual, but sometimes there are differences of opinion, especially when the contracts are large and complex."

The spokesperson added that with complex agreements, there can be "issues of contractual interpretation" and that 99 out of 100 audit problems are resolved amicably.

Apple and EMI previously battled over the issue of royalties during the 1980s and eventually settled out of court in 1989.