HARTFORD (CN) – Venerable soul singer Betty Harris-Clemons claims Sony Music Entertainment owes her $250,000 in royalties for sampling her 1960s tune “Nearer to You” on a Christina Aguilera song.
Harris-Clemons, 73, claims in Federal Court that Aguilera’s tune “Understand,” on her “Back to Basics” CD, which was released in 2006, samples Harris-Clemons’ tune from a generation before.
And, she claims, Sony was aware of the infringement before it released the CD in 2006.
Aguilera is not a party to the case.
Harris-Clemons claims that Sony agreed to pay a 5-cent royalty per use of the sample, but has refused to pay because “an undisclosed claimant allegedly has the rights to the song.”
She claims Sony has been putting the royalties in a sample account, which contained $170,384, but that 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 complaint states.
“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,” according to the complaint.
Harris-Clemons claims the account also should contain DVD royalties because a video of a 2008 performance was featured on a DVD that sold more than 100,000 copies.
She demands an accounting, royalties and punitive damages for copyright violations and unfair business practices.
She is represented by Kenneth Krayeske, of Meriden.