Yoko Ono Sues Music Company Over Lennon Royalties

NEW YORK (October 19, 2006) — Yoko Ono sued music company EMI Group PLC and a subsidiary for $10 million Wednesday, claiming she was cheated out of royalties due from the sale of music recordings by her late husband, John Lennon.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, accuses EMI and Capitol Records Inc. of violating a half-dozen agreements by “willfully and knowingly underreporting royalties” by hiding the “true use and disposition of Lennon’s recordings.”

Ono’s three-page filing, which included a summons and notice but no detailed complaint, also accuses EMI and Capitol of “intentionally and systematically rendering dishonest and grossly deficient accounting statements.”

A spokeswoman for EMI/Capitol, Jeanne Meyer, would not discuss Ono’s lawsuit specifically, but she said, “Artists from time to time request audits of their royalty accounts. Sometimes there are differences of opinion, which is understandable given the complex nature of recording contracts.”

Meyer said the contracts are sometimes subject to interpretation “but 99 times out of 100 these things are resolved in an amicable way.”

Ono’s lawyer, John LiCalsi, refused to comment on the lawsuit, which asks for at least $10 million plus interest.

In August, state Supreme Court Justice Karla Moskowitz refused to dismiss a similar lawsuit brought by the Beatles and their music company, Apple Corps Ltd. That lawsuit seeks ownership and control of the Beatles’ master recordings.

Meyer said her company is appealing the judge’s ruling.

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