Weird Al Wonders Why Sony Music Never Gave Him His White & Nerdy Cut Of YouTube's Equity Payout

from the white-and-nerdy dept

Back when Google bought YouTube in 2006, one of the side notes on the deal which didn’t get that much attention was that right before the deal closed, YouTube gave a bunch of equity to the major record labels, structured more or less as a payoff in exchange for not suing YouTube for a few years. The most beautiful part in all of this for the labels, of course, was that they got a ton of free cash which they never planned to share with artists. Since the deal was done as equity, the labels could insist that it had nothing to do with royalties, and they could keep the whole amount — and they did. But, of course, if artists expected the labels to protect their interests, they were out of luck.

It seems that some artists are finally bringing this point out. We’ve covered the many, many lawsuits over the past few years where artists are suing their labels over whether or not iTunes purchases count as a sale (tiny royalty) or a license (big royalty). However, some are also bringing up other wrongs. Eminem’s producers, FBT, who were one of the first of these cases, specifically called out the fact that they never received any of the YouTube money.

And, now, Weird Al Yankovic is joining the party. In yet another one of these lawsuits about the difference between a license and a sale, Weird Al also focuses on the missing YouTube payments and points out that his song White & Nerdy was hugely popular on YouTube around the time of the buyout.

This may be a difficult legal argument to win, but if Weird Al (or, rather, his production company Ear Booker Enterprises) can show that Sony Music did the equity deal under that structure specifically to avoid paying out royalties, things could get interesting, especially for other artists whose work was popular on YouTube at the time…

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Companies: sony music, youtube

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Comments on “Weird Al Wonders Why Sony Music Never Gave Him His White & Nerdy Cut Of YouTube's Equity Payout”

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SofaKing (profile) says:

Re: I am confused..

Sounds like the perfect place for junkies to work.

Do you like to get high?
Do you like having a different hooker every night?
Do you like fucking the little guy over?
Do you like stirring up shit for personal amusement?
Are you tired of heebie jeebies?
Are you tired of worrying if you’re hooker is std free?

If you answered yes to any of these apply at Sony.

geoff erickson says:

wierd Al suing youtube

Myself I try to buy as little Apple products and Itunes as I can because why give corporations loke Apple, youtube, etc. my money? Since I have kids I was forced to buy Ipods. Myself I use a $20 mp3 player. I also buy viynl as much as I can. I am Canadian but I would rather buys records made by my friends in the USA or Germany then CDs made in a commununist corporate state like China. People… quit buying crap made by corporations. Buy 2nd hand CDs from private record stores. Buy viynl direct from the artist. America…. start making turntables in Michigan…buy American (or Canadian too).

Auditrix (profile) says:

I am biased because our firm’s audit report is the basis for this suit, but I am disappointed that other auditors failed to try to secure full YouTube compensation for their clients.

The labels pursued a similar strategy with record clubs when record clubs mattered, so this is nothing new.

Now that several litigators have approached me who are interested in exploring a class action against the labels re: YouTube, it is too late. (Most artists have lost their rights to object to 2006 accountings.)

However, the music companies do have equity interests in certain music services, so you may yet read about similar claims.

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