A new American Idol lawsuit claims Sony Music cheated former winners Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and others on the show out of millions of dollars. American Idol record label 19 Recordings is suing Sony for allegedly failing to pay former contestants massive amounts of royalties they were due for their music.

Carrie Underwood

“We did not want to have to file this lawsuit, but Sony left us no choice, so this became necessary to protect our artists. Our complaint lays out the claims in great detail,” says Jason Morey, 19 Entertainment’s Worldwide Head of Music, in a statement reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “Everything we have to say about the case is set forth in it.”

Richard Busch at law firm King & Ballow adds, “We have investigated this thoroughly and feel strongly about the claims.”

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19 Recordings was established by American Idol creator Simon Fuller and is now part of the holdings of the show’s owning company, Core Media Group. The lawsuit represents the interests of all of the artists who have worked under the label with Sony, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken, and more. Putting all the complicated math aside, the American Idol lawsuit basically claims that Sony ripped off former contestants by underpaying royalties for their music.

Some examples include treating streaming music sources like Spotify as “sales” rather than “broadcasts,” which would have costed more under the terms of their contract.19 Entertainment also disputes how Sony Music classified sales of individual songs off albums on iTunes. They also claim Sony did not pay proper royalties on compilation albums either by attempting “to state compilation albums are not albums.”

The American Idol lawsuit against Sony Music by 19 recordings is seeking at least $10 million in damages. Sony has so far not commented on the suit.

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