Smokey Robinson could soon see a windfall of money from some of his earliest compositions and his ex-wife, Claudette Robinson, wants a piece of the action.
The Copyright Act of 1976 included a clause that is currently coming due allowing artists to regain the rights to their older songs that they may have given up early in their career when they were hungry or not knowledgeable in the ways of the business. A number of artists have already filed claims for their music as has Robinson. The songs that he is seeking are some of the biggest hits from the early days of Motown, ones that are still played regularly on the radio and are generating sizeable royalty incomes.
Claudette was obviously aware of the money that potentially could be coming to her ex-husband and contacted him about the royalties; however, Smokey filed a lawsuit in March to try and negate any claims she might have.
Last Friday, Claudette took her own action, filing a countersuit claiming that 50% of the royalties from songs Smokey wrote while their married should belong to her, but she didn't stop there. She has also claimed that Smokey had breached his fiduciary duty and committed constructive fraud by not declaring the possible windfall, scheduled far into the future, during 1989 proceedings after their divorce.
According to Smokey's lawyers, the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act only apply to the actual songwriter; however, Claudette's lawyers have countered saying that Congress never intended to preclude the rights of those who would normally have shared in the royalties.
The Robinson's met while performing as the Miracles and were married for 27 years.