Executives at a musicians' union in the U.S. have filed suit against the producers of American Idol, alleging they have failed to pay royalties to artists who worked on tracks for the show.
Bosses at The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) filed papers in U.S. District Court on Friday (11Jun10) claiming TV chiefs behind Simon Cowell's hit contest owe $500,000 (£300,000) in back pay for union musicians who played the songs featured on the series.
The lawsuit alleges that although the musicians have been paid for the initial use of their work during the broadcast of the show, TV bosses have failed to hand over royalties received from the sale of recordings of the contestants' performances, including internet downloads and ringtones.
AFM Local 47 vice president John Acosta tells Variety.com, "Any additional use of the music requires payment. This came to our attention in 2008, but they started exploiting (this music) from season four (in 2005)."
The lawsuit, which was filed after settlement talks with Idol bosses broke down, is seeking back payment for recordings which are "sold as songs, some as ringtones, and some as combined audio-visual performances" without compensation, as well as contributions to the union pension fund, interest and attorney fees.