The producers of "American Idol" are being sued by the American Federation of Musicians for failing to pay musicians for playing on tracks the show sells as downloads and ringtones.
The suit seeks $500,000 in back pay for the union musicians who play(ed) on the show. The musicians were paid for their initial performance, but AFM contracts also require them to be paid for any new use of music recorded by the musicians, which is a standard clause for all TV variety shows, according to Variety.
The pieces of work in question are "digitally encoded audio files containing those soundtracks" recorded by union musicians but then "sold as songs, some as ringtones and some as combined audio-visual performances." Apparently this use of the music dates back to Season 4.
The suit is also seeking contributions to the union pension fund, interest, legal fees and payments to the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund for "Idol" video sales that contain song performances.