Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gershwin Heirs Sue Warner Music

Images-1George Gershwin composed Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Porgy and Bess, among other famous works.  He died in 1937, and since then, his Trust has been working with various Warner music subsidiaries including Warner/Chappell on the exploitation of his work.  Now, Gershwin's heirs are suing Warner Bros. Music for at least $15 million claiming the underpayment of royalties and other accounting discrepancies. 

In 2007, the Gershwin heirs conduced an audit that they claim turned up Warner Music's alleged "failure 'to protect and preserve Gershwin's copyright interests both domestically and abroad.'"  The heirs have a problem with how Gershwin's music and orchestrations have been rented outside the United States and Canada, how his ballets were licensed, how his concert grand rights were licensed, and an alleged failure to register copyrights in a timely manner. The complaint alleges numerous ways that Warners failed to make a full accounting and deducted too much for commissions. 

Brian Caplan and Jonathan Ross are representing the heirs and they are demanding at least $5 million in compensatory damages for breach of contract and at least $5 million in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty. 

See Eriq Gardner, Warner Music Sued For Millions By George Gershwin Heirs, Hollywood, Esq., Jan. 14, 2013. 


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Such is life in Hollywood it seems. Warner had less than two business days to enjoy its victory in the Superman appeal, only to get slapped with this.

Posted by: brian j. cohan | Jan 15, 2013 2:33:39 PM

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