There’s more drama afoot for the Nina Simone estate. The iconic singer’s heirs are battling Sony, her former label, for allegedly pirating her music. According to Billboard, the plaintiffs claim that 80 albums of recorded Nina Simone songs were sold via iTunes and other digital outlets without permission.
This is an extension of an old dispute with Sony that was seemingly resolved. The new allegation is that Sony owns one of the largest pirates in the American recorded music industry, known as Orchard. Orchard distributes independent recordings and feeds music to iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, and more. Sony acquired Orchard in a $200 million deal in March.
Simone rights have been the subject of extensive litigation over the years — especially between Steven Ames Brown, an attorney who represented Simone, and Andrew Stroud, Simone’s former husband, manager and producer. In the midst of the fighting, Sony got involved because its predecessor RCA had contracts with the singer that date back to 1966.
Last October, Sony Music, Brown and the Simone estate reached a deal at a settlement conference, but two weeks ago, Sony Music filed a claim in court to rescind the agreement because the other parties allegedly didn’t lived up to their side of the bargain. Among other things, Sony said that Brown was taking the position that only reproduction rights had been given to Sony, potentially limiting its exploitation of the singer’s music.
On Wednesday, Brown and the Simone estate hit back with copyright infringement claims against Sony and Orchard over more than 80 albums of recorded Nina Simone performances that have been uploaded to digital outlets without authorization.
Lawyers for Nina Simone’s estate are alleging that Sony allowed Orchard to obtain bootlegs of Nina Simone’s performances. As a result, Orchard is being sued for copyright infringement and Sony is being sued for breaching an implied covenant not to harm Nina Simone’s income from her official albums.
Sony hasn’t commented on the Orchard allegations.
This is all convoluted and heavy. Y’all gon’ learn to stop messing with Nina Simone and her kin.