Calunius backs case over Elvis’s German royalties

Third-party litigation funder Calunius Litigation Risk Fund is supporting a lawsuit filed in Germany on behalf of the estate of Elvis Presley.

German IP boutique Boehmert & Boehmert is acting for Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), the corporate entity that manages the assets of the late singer. EPE filed a claim in December 2010 in Germany against Arista Music, which was formerly known as RCA Records.

The case is claiming unpaid royalties on Elvis songs sold in Germany between March 2002 and 2023. It was filed following amendments to German copyright law that extended the term of protection from 25 to 50 years.

The lawsuit covers recordings of Elvis’s music available in a number of forms including ringtones, apps and downloads.

The case hinges on a 1973 buyout agreement between Elvis and RCA, in which the singer’s manager ’Colonel’ Tom Parker sold the rights to Elvis’s back catalogue for $5.4m. The suit alleges that the effect of this agreement was that Elvis only received an annual payment of about $10 – $15 per song for the German rights.

The claimants are seeking a total of around €12m in unpaid royalties.

Calunius chair Leslie Perrin said the fund was confident of success when the case reaches the courts. “We think it’s a winner,” he said.

The case is the first investment by Calunius to be made public since the fund successfully raised £40m in a private fundraising in January 2011.