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Bing Crosby’s Clan Sues Universal

Bing Crosby became famous for crooning such classics as “White Christmas,” “Pennies from Heaven,” and “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” Unfortunately, the contracts he signed were not as clear as the golden tones of his voice, and Crosby’s surviving family now alleges that the Universal Music Group should spare them 1.6 billion dimes (that’s $16 million) in unpaid royalties.

The dispute hinges on whether or not Universal is obliged to pay 15 percent royalties on Crosby’s pre-1949 recordings. The plaintiffs – the estates of Crosby and his first wife, Wilma Wyatt (known in film as Dixie Lee) – audited their books and noticed that Universal had been paying only 7 percent on such recordings, which runs contrary to a contract Crosby signed with Decca.

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