Sony Files to Dismiss Toto Lawsuit

Dispute over digital licensing royalties

David Paich, Joseph Williams, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Nathan East and Steve Pocaro of Toto perform in London.
C Brandon/Redferns
March 27, 2012 1:10 PM ET

Sony BMG has filed a motion to dismiss a suit brought by the band Toto, who are seeking unpaid royalties from digital sales, Billboard reports.

As noted in February, the initial suit alleged that Sony failed to pay the band, best known for their hit song "Africa," 50 percent of net receipts from licensing their music to third parties (such as iTunes) that sell downloads of their work. Toto was included in Sony's recent $8 million settlement over digital music revenue, along with Cheap Trick, the Allman Brothers Band, and others, but according to a statement from the music company, the band is "dissatisfied with the bargain that it struck."

Sony's motion to dismiss includes an alleged 2002 agreement between the parties over a new set of royalty rates for online retail. Its primary focus, however, is the semantic difference between the terms "license," "sale" and "lease." Toto is currently seeking damages in excess of $605,000 plus interest and full accounting and legal fees.

It was the Allman Brothers case that brought "leasing" into the conversation, with the band alleging that Sony leased the bands catalog to download providers. Now Toto is arguing that "lease" is synonymous with "license," while Sony – with help from the Oxford English Dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary and Webster's Third New International Dictionary – begs to differ.

Two weeks ago, the Temptations sued Universal Music Group for millions of dollars in revenue for downloads and ringtones. Artists including Kenny Rogers, Peter Frampton and Public Enemy have also filed similar suits against their respective labels. All such cases come on the heals of a lawsuit Eminem filed, and won, against Universal Music Group last year, which set the licensing precedent.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
C Brandon/Redferns
David Paich, Joseph Williams, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Nathan East and Steve Pocaro of Toto perform in London.
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »