Ex-Doobie Brother Sues Warner With Eminem's Super-Lawyer

23 May 2012 | 11:21 am | Scott Fitzsimons

Michael McDonald is the latest artist to sue over payments of online music sales.

Michael McDonald, a recorded member of The Doobie Brothers and solo artist with hits like I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near), has filed a law suit against the Warner Music Group as he claims that they didn't pay him enough for online music sales.

According to The Tennessean, he is seeking a least $500,000 in royalties that he claims were 'deliberately' underpaid through sales of music digitally - from iTunes to ringtones.

It lawsuit claims that is was "part of a conscious decision by Warner, and others in the music business to deprive artists of their proper royalties."

It is the latest in a string of claims made by musicians against labels, and like Eminem, Peter Frampton, Kenny Rogers, Weird Al Yankovic and members of Toto before him, McDonald is being represented by Richard Busch.

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Busch has a growing reputation for handling cases of this sort - which usually are concerned with an interpretation of 'sales' in the digital sphere - especially given his success with Eminem.

Last year he successfully sued Universal Music Group on behalf of the rapper and his producers FBT Productions, with damages to be decided later this year.

In that particular case FBT had challenged Universal-distributed Aftermath Entertainment over the royalty rate for digital downloads based on an interpretation of digital purchases as "records sold" rather than licensed music.

As theMusic.com.au reported in March 2011, the interpretation allowed Aftermath to pay the fee of 12 percent for physical albums. On appeal, however, a judge ruled that contracts are ambiguous when applied against the digital marketplace, allowing for the precedence of a 50-50 split for Eminem and his producers based on an existing contract.

An appeal by Universal was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

McDonald, who toured Australia and New Zealand in 2010, is a five-time Grammy Award winner. Starting his career as a singer with Steely Dan, he wrote a number of hits while with The Doobie Brothers in the late '70s (where four of his Grammys came from) before enjoying a solid solo career.