BMG facing lawsuit over alleged refusal to pay ‘Uptown Funk’ royalties to Gap Band heirs

The Wilsons' lawyer said the family has been “working for years” to receive proper credit and royalties for the song’s usage

BMG, the publisher behind Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars‘ 2015 hit ‘Uptown Funk’ is facing a lawsuit over claims the company failed to pay royalties to the families of the Gap Band members.

The writers on the 1979 Gap Band track ‘Oops Up Side Your Head’ – group members Ronnie Wilson, Charles Wilson and Robert Wilson, as well as record producer Lonnie Simmons and Rudolph Taylor – were added to the list of co-writers a few months after ‘Uptown Funk’ came out. The reasons for this were never revealed.

Now, Billboard reports that the families of Ronnie and Robert Wilson have alleged that BMG has not been paying them the royalties they are entitled to. “Despite its obligations to account for and pay to plaintiffs their share of all income received from the ‘Uptown Funk’ musical composition, BMG has refused and failed to provide either the funds due to plaintiffs or an accounting despite plaintiffs’ repeated demands,” the lawsuit states.


Ronson and Mars are not implicated in the lawsuit.

The Wilsons’ lawyer, Michael Steger, told Billboard that they’ve been “working for years” to receive proper credit and royalties for the song’s usage and are “left with no choice but to pursue litigation to protect their rights.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 30: Recording artists Bruno Mars (L) and Mark Ronson accept the Best Male Video award for ‘Uptown Funk’ onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

BMG did not respond to Billboard’s request for comment.

‘Uptown Funk’ has been the subject of three other lawsuits since its release. Ronson and Mars were sued in 2016 for copyright infringement by Minneapolis funk band Collage, who claimed the pair’s 2014 track was “an obvious, strikingly and/or substantially similar copy” of their 1983 single ‘Young Girls’. Both sides later agreed to drop the case.

In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment, who own the rights to Roger and Zapp’s 1980 song ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’, filed a lawsuit against Ronson, claiming he copied their track. The lawsuit was also dropped at a later date.

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