Dispute over Duke Ellington royalties in court

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Jazz composer Duke Ellington's grandson is urging New York's highest court to reinstate his lawsuit seeking half the foreign royalties from Ellington's music for his heirs.

The suit against publisher EMI alleges breach of the 1961 standard songwriter royalty contract the late pianist, bandleader and composer signed with Mills Music, predecessor of EMI, which is now part of global Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

The contract calls for an even split of net revenue.

Paul Ellington says EMI should stop deducting 50 percent commissions to foreign subpublishers its parent company owns before splitting the rest with Ellington's heirs.

Attorney Richard Scarola tells the Court of Appeals the publishing giant passively collects royalties in Nashville, Tennessee.

A judge dismissed the suit, concluding EMI could pay foreign affiliates acquired after the contract was signed.