EMI Sued for Dixie Cups’ ‘Iko Iko’ Royalties

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A group representing the interests of a member of the 1960s pop trio the Dixie Cups has sued EMI in state court for royalties for the group’s hit “Iko Iko.”

Artists Rights Enforcement names Jerri Thomas Jones and EMI Consortium Songs, doing business as EMI Longitude Music, in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. The New York-based group seeks a judicial declaration that EMI should continue to pay Joan Marie Johnson’s royalties for the song, which has been covered several times since its 1965 release.

Johnson, a member of the musical trio, died in October 2016. Artists Rights says that for more than a decade it collected a 50 percent contingency fee under a contract with EMI’s predecessor, Windswept Holdings, after representing Johnson and protecting her royalty interest in the song.

Now Jones, “who inherited Ms. Johnson’s rights under the Windswept contract and therefore stands in her shoes, has taken the position that AREC is not entitled to continue collecting the songwriter royalties under the Windswept contact now that Ms. Johnson has died,” Artists Rights says in its complaint.

“Defendant Jones contends that she is the only party entitled to collect the songwriter royalties under the Windswept contract, notwithstanding AREC’s fully vested interest in collecting those royalties and deducting its contingency-fee share,” the 7-page complaint states.

In 2003, Johnson and “Iko Iko” co-writers Rosa Lee Hawkins and Barbara Ann Hawkins – also members of the Dixie Cups – sued Joe Jones of Melder Publishing Company in New Orleans. They claimed he had collected royalties without paying them their share, including a foreign interest derived from the use of the song in the 2000 film “Mission Impossible II.”

A jury awarded the Dixie Cups $409,507.89 in damages and ordered Jones to relinquish his copyright claims and license in the song to the trio. On Aug. 29, 2003, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the ruling.

Artists Rights Enforcement is represented by Michelle Correll of Smith Correll.

EMI Music Publishing is owned by DH Publishing, which is jointly owned by a consortium that includes Sony and Michael Jackson’s estate. Courthouse News contacted Sony/ATV Music for comment by email.

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