Oldies News

Cher suing Sonny Bono’s widow over song royalties

Sonny & Cher together in 1977; Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Cher is singing “I Got Sue Babe” these days: She’s filed a suit accusing Mary Bono — the widow of her ex-husband and musical partner Sonny Bono — of trying to get out of paying royalties to her for Sonny & Cher hits.

It’s all pretty complicated, but in Cher’s complaint, obtained by ABC News, her lawyer is asking the court to stop Mary from using what’s called a “termination right” to avoid paying Cher royalties on songs like “I Got You Babe” and “Bang Bang.”

When Cher and Sony finalized their divorce in 1978, Sonny agreed that when it came to their hits, Cher could have 50% of “record royalties and musical composition royalties…in perpetuity and throughout the world.”

But Mary Bono is invoking the termination right, which allows artists to reclaim rights they may have signed away years ago. The suit says Mary had her team notify Cher last month that the royalty payments were going to stop.

Cher’s lawyer — the guy who won the infamous “Stairway to Heaven” copyright case on behalf of Led Zeppelin — says the provision that would allow Mary to do that is “wholly inapplicable” in this situation.  The lawyer also says Mary is in breach of contract if she stops paying.

In addition to seeking to have her royalties reinstated, Cher is also suing for damages in excess of $1 million, plus attorneys’ fees.

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