added: 3 Apr 2012 // by: VVN Music
Before he died, Ray Charles gave each of his children $500,000 under the stipulation that they would not try to go after any parts of his estate. That included the copyrights to his music which are now owned by the Ray Charles Foundation which is partially funded by the royalties.
The Foundation is suing seven of Ray's children, saying that they are violating the 2002 written agreement by trying to regain the copyright on 51 of Charles' songs including such gems as I Got a Woman and A Fool For You.
The lawsuit states "In complete disregard of the confidence, trust, and belief in his own children that their father reposed in them by undertaking the actions described below in this Complaint, Defendents have reneged on and are in breach or other violation of this agreement.
"The self-serving attempts on the part of the Defendants to deprive The Foundation of its said intellectual property rights not only is contrary to the express wishes of their father and in breach of the agreement they signed and promises that they made but it is contrary to the best interest of those innocent parties who would be benefited by the grants made by The Foundation."
The Ray Charles Foundation provides funding for research into hearing impairment and also supports youth programs with it's money.
The seven offspring named in the suit (Raenee Robinson, Ray Charles Robinson Jr., David Robinson, Robert Robinson, Reatha Butler, Robyn Moffett) are said to have started the process to recover the song copyrights in March of 2010, using a change in the copyright law from 1976 as the basis for their filing.
The Foundation claims that Charles wrote the songs while he was an employee of Atlantic Records and not as an independent songwriter. Because he was employed by the company, they contend that the 1976 copyright law change does not apply to these compositions as it did not cover "works for hire."
The suit asks that the court stop any transfers and seeks $500,000 from each defendant plus court costs, attorney's fees and interest.