A few years back, a few bands, including Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers sued their record labels
claiming their cut of iTunes sales wasn't right. It was basically a contractual suit. Since there are a million and one different licenses
to deal with, the record labels were treating digital sales the same way they treated CD sales -- of which the artists get a tiny tiny percentage. However, these bands noted that it seemed like digital sales was much more similar to a deal where they were licensing
their music for use in another product -- such as a commercial or a movie. In those deals, the bands get a much bigger cut. A little while later, Eminem filed a similar lawsuit -- though somehow (great lawyers there...) thought that it was all Apple's fault and sued Apple
. It looks like that got sorted out eventually, and Eminem refocused the lawsuit on Universal Music. And... didn't get very far. Last week a jury found that Universal Music was right: a digital sale is just like a physical sale
, and thus the significantly lower royalty rate applies. You can bet pretty much every major record label just breathed a huge sigh of relief (even though an appeal is likely), because a ruling in the other direction would take away a hefty chunk of margin from their digital sales.