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Warner Music Group Sued by Gershwin Heirs Over Royalties

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Gershwin Law Suit
Royalties and interest from works composed by George Gershwin, such as "Porgy and Bess," are the subject of a law suit. "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" played on Broadway in 2012. Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Warner Music Group Corp. was sued by George Gershwin’s heirs over claims they’re owed $4.5 million in royalties and interest from works of the late composer of “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Porgy and Bess.”

The claims relate to the rental of Gershwin’s works outside the U.S. and Canada, worldwide licensing of ballets, worldwide licensing of concert grand rights and Warner Music’s failure to register copyrights in a timely manner, according to the complaint filed Jan. 11 in New York state court in Manhattan.

The heirs, including a nephew and niece of George and Ira Gershwin, said in the complaint that in 2007 they reviewed Warner Music’s books and records, which they said revealed “significant non-payments and/or underpayments of royalties and other amounts” as well as other contractual breaches.

The heirs are also conducting two other examinations related to other “worldwide and traditional income issues” and may bring additional claims, they said in the complaint.

James Steven, a spokesman for Warner Music, declined to comment yesterday on the lawsuit.

The case is Marc George Gershwin v. WB Music Corp., 650117/2013, New York State Supreme Court, County of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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