The Carpenters Sue Universal Music Group for $2 Million

Lawsuit claims breach of contract concerning digital royalties

The Carpenters' Richard Carpenter has filed a $2 million breach of contract lawsuit against Universal Music Group and A&M Records. Credit: Tony Russell/Getty

Richard Carpenter has filed a $2 million lawsuit against Universal Music Group and A&M Records on behalf of his singer-songwriting duo the Carpenters. The suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that he and the estate of his late sister Karen Carpenter have only received a "minuscule fraction" of their digital royalties, as Variety reports. Karen died in 1983.

Among the lawsuit's claims, it cites that there were alleged "multiple accounting errors" discovered following two audits, as The Wrap points out. According to the suit, the labels "improperly classified" revenue from digital downloads of the Carpenters' music as record-sales royalties instead of as licensing revenue, which would lead to the Carpenters receiving a lower royalty rate and thus a shortfall on what they're allegedly owed.

Additionally, the lawsuit also alleges that the record labels undercounted digital downloads and also applied an incorrect base price on sales of CDs.

“I regret that I have been unable to amicably resolve this serious royalty dispute with Universal and A&M,” Carpenter said in a statement, via Variety. “The Carpenters' recordings are among the best sellers in the history of popular music and after 48 years continue to contribute a substantial amount to UMG/A&M’s annual bottom line. It seems only fair that these companies account fairly to my sister’s estate and to me. I look forward to proving the allegations in court.”

A rep for Universal did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The suit seeks at least $2 million, claiming breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.