Cher has sued the widow of her late ex-husband, Sonny Bono, to protect her share of royalties from their music, which includes classic hits like ‘I Got You Babe’ and ‘The Beat Goes On.’
In the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, obtained by DailyMail.com, Cher said she ‘has sustained damages, and will continue to sustain damages, in an amount not presently known but believed to exceed $1million.’
After Cher and Sonny split, they agreed to share all royalties from their music 50/50 as part of their divorce settlement in 1978, according to the lawsuit.
But the Bono Collection Trust – headed by Mary Bono, his widow – used a clause in the 1976 Copyright Law to terminate Cher’s rights to the royalties, the lawsuit says, without her knowing.
So while the $1million in damages may be small compared to the $360 million the iconic singer – now 75 – is reportedly worth, the lawsuit was filed to protect her share of the royalties in the future.
Since their divorce, Cher has had 50 percent ownership of community property from there marriage with Sonny Bono.
But according to the lawsuit, fourth wife and widow, Mary Bono, used ‘a wholly inapplicable statutory termination provision of the Copyright Act of 1976’ and ‘undone (Cher’s) ownership of her royalties from the songs and recordings that she and Sonny made famous during their marriage’, it said.
Cher has been ‘deprived’ of ‘long-established rights under the 1978 agreement,’ it said.
. The crux of this is the 67 year period in the law, right?
What the 1976 Copyright law says
In the case of any other copyrighted work, including a contribution by an individual author to a periodical or to a cyclopedic or other composite work—
(i)the author of such work, if the author is still living,
(ii)the widow, widower, or children of the author, if the author is not living,
(iii)the author’s executors, if such author, widow, widower, or children are not living, or
(iv)the author’s next of kin, in the absence of a will of the author,
shall be entitled to a renewal and extension of the copyright in such work for a further term of 67 years.
Source: Cornell law
Cher, seen in October 2020, on Wednesday sued Mary Bono, the widow of her ex-husband Sonny Bono
Even if the copyright law was applicable, which Cher denies, her lawsuit argues that it does not doesn’t trump the 1978 divorce settlement she has with Sonny.
But she claims Mary Bono used Wixen – a publicity company that both sides agreed to hire – to end contracts with various music publishers and other companies without Cher’s consent.
Meaning they ended the contracts without her knowing during these two years? Those end dates range from 2018 to 2026, according to Cher’s legal action. Once those contracts are terminated, The Bono Collection Trust told Cher she will no longer be paid royalties. Not sure what the trust is? Do we need to get into that?
Cher ‘disputes each of The Bono Collection Trust’s contentions, but The Bono Collection Trust continues to adhere to its contentions and has stopped, or will shortly stop, paying to The Veritas Trust’s (owned by Cher) 50 percent of Composition Royalties and honoring Plaintiff’s rights under the Marriage Settlement Agreement,’ the lawsuit says.
Sonny Bono and Cher are seen in 1973, performing on their CBS television show ‘The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour’
After they split, Sonny married another two times, tying the knot with fourth and final wife Mary Whitaker in 1986. The couple are pictured in 1989
The singer was married to Sonny Bono from 1964-75, and was his second wife, and half of their wildly successful musical double act.
After they split, Sonny married another two times, tying the knot with fourth and final wife Mary Whitaker in 1986. They were still married when Sonny died in a skiing accident in Lake Tahoe in 1998 at 62.
Initially Cher and Mary Bono got along well, with Bono inviting Cher to deliver a eulogy at Sonny Bono’s funeral.
But in recent years the relationship has soured, and on Wednesday Cher, 75, sued Mary for what she claims are missing royalties.
When Sonny died, he was serving as a Republican congressman for California following an election victory in 1995. He had been elected mayor of Palm Springs from 1988-92.
Mary Bono, now 59, ran for her late husband’s seat shortly after his death, and served from 1998 to 2013. She is now a political consultant.