UMG Defeats Ex-Beach Boy’s ‘Vague’ Lawsuit Over Streaming Royalties

UMG Defeats Ex-Beach Boy’s ‘Vague’ Lawsuit Over Streaming Royalties

A Los Angeles federal judge has dismissed a class action filed by a former Beach Boys member that claimed Universal Music Group was potentially defrauding thousands of artists by underpaying streaming royalties, ruling the case made only “vague” accusations supported by little evidence.

David Marks, who performed on the band’s first four albums in the early 1960s, accused UMG last year of “artificially and clandestinely” reducing royalty payments on foreign streaming, but U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi ruled Wednesday the lawsuit was deeply flawed.

“Plaintiff attaches no contract or fraudulent royalty statement [and] makes no effort to narrow his serious fraud accusations to a reasonably discrete period or individual such that UMG can meaningfully respond,” the judge wrote. “These vague statements do not state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud.”

Marks joined the Beach Boys in 1962 and played rhythm guitar on the albums Surfin’ Safari, Surfin’ U.S.A., Surfer Girl, and Little Deuce Coupe. He left the band in 1963, though he’s intermittently toured and recorded with the group over the decades, including the band’s 2012 album That’s Why God Made the Radio.

He filed his case against UMG last year, claiming the company had underpaid “hundreds, if not thousands” of artists through bookmaking trickery. Specifically, Marks claimed that UMG affiliates made secret, improper deductions on money collected from foreign streaming before calculating royalties.

“As far as plaintiff and class members knew, they were being paid royalties based on the full percentage of revenues indicated on the statements issued by UMG,” he wrote. “As such, [they] had no reason to entertain the possibility that taxable monies were being quietly slipped into defendants’ back pocket.”

Marks claimed that the royalty statements ultimately received by were thus “false and misleading.” He accused UMG of both breach of contract and fraud, among other claims.

In previous rulings, Judge Scarsi said the case was flawed but gave Marks a chance to fix the errors. In Wednesday’s ruling, he said he had given enough chances.

“Plaintiff once again includes no particularized facts that would allow the court to determine what fraud occurred, when, and through what instrument,” the judge wrote. “The court directs the clerk to enter judgment and close the case.”

An attorney for Marks did not return a request for comment on Thursday morning. A spokesman for UMG also did not immediately return a request for comment.

UMG Defeats Ex-Beach Boy’s ‘Vague’ Lawsuit Over Streaming Royalties A Los Angeles federal judge has dismissed a class action filed by a former Beach Boys member that claimed Universal Music Group was potentially defrauding thousands of artists by underpaying streaming royalties, ruling the case made only “vague” accusations supported by little evidence. David Marks, who performed…