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Lawsuit Claims "American Idol" Stars Were Underpaid Millions of Dollars by Record Company 

Jill Greenberg/RCA RecordsKelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, David Cook and Carrie Underwood have something in common besides gaining fame via American Idol: they were allegedly also systematically ripped off by their record company.

That's the claim in a new lawsuit filed Thursday in New York federal court, reports the Nashville Tennessean.  The suit was brought by 19 Recordings, the music branch of the company behind American Idol, against Sony Music, with which it had a deal to release American Idol contestants' albums. According to the paper, 19 is accusing Sony of short-changing the Idol stars on royalty payments to the tune of millions of dollars, because of "systematically incorrect calculations."

Specifically, reports the Tennessean, 19 Recordings claims Sony didn't pay the artists what they were owned in royalties from streaming music, and incorrectly deducted from their earnings money spent on TV advertising.  Incorrect royalties were also paid to the artists for the use of their songs on compilation albums, the suit alleges.

19 claims it discovered the shortfalls after conducting two separate audits, and in the suit, it alleges that even more would likely be found if Sony would give it full access to its books, which, it says, Sony has refused to do. 

19 is seeking damages of more than $7 million, in addition to $3 million worth of interest, plus the cost of the audits and legal fees.

In 2010, 19 Recordings split with Sony and signed a new deal with Universal, which is the label that now has the right of first refusal for American Idol contestants' albums.

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