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Eminem’s music publisher is suing Apple for selling up to 80 of his songs at iTunes Store “without permission”. The rapper argues his label Universal Music Group did not have the right to license Apple to sell the tracks because he owns the publishing rights through his Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated holding companies. The companies filed suit in a Detroit federal court on Monday, seeking $75,000 for copyright infringement, unfair competition and breaking Michigan consumer law, plus $150,000 for every unauthorized song purchased.
Picture Steve Jobs and Eminem in an MC battle. The case is just “the tip of the iceberg,” entertainment lawyer Owen Sloane told the LA Times, because, while Apple cuts its deals directly with the labels, which tend to own music recordings, independent publishers are complaining they do not see enough money out of the arrangement. As if to make that point more stark, Universal last month was reported to be ending its long-term contract with Apple, in what could merely be a bargaining tactic aimed at getting higher rates. But if more independent publishers feel they deserve a slice of those rates, we could see more cases like this. It’s not the first time Eminem’s companies have taken such action — in 2004, they first sued after Universal licensed his music to Apple for an iTunes TV commercial and, later, to stop ringtones being sold online by Universal.