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Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 09:10 am PT (12:10 pm ET)

Apple, rapper Eminem could end up in trial over iTunes battle

If Apple and Eight Mile Style LLC, publisher of artist Eminem, are unable to resolve a dispute by Thursday, the two parties will end up in trial over the sale of songs on iTunes.

The lawsuit stems from 2007, when the rapper sued Apple over the sale of his songs in iTunes, alleging the tracks were sold without his blessing. Also included in the lawsuit is Aftermath Records, the company that controls Eminem's songs.

According to Reuters, the matter will head to trial this week if the parties involved are not able to reach a last-minute deal. Eminem and Eight Mile Style allege that Apple is providing downloads of the artist's song through iTunes without proper permission. Apple, along with Aftermath Records, contends that not only is their arrangement legal, but the publisher has received royalties for the sale of songs on the iTunes Music Store.

A conference with Judge Virginia Morgan is scheduled for Wednesday with the involved parties in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Under most contracts with their labels, artists receive around 20 cents — or less than 30 percent — of the approximate 70 cents Apple pays labels for the sale of each 99 cent song sold, under the assumption that such sales are part of a distribution deal. But Eminem's attorneys have argued that since digital sales differ from traditional record store sales. They say the music content has long been licensed with restrictions, and artists should see a 50-50 split, or about 35 cents a song, per their existing agreements.

When songs are sold on iTunes, the overhead usually required to promote and distribute is no longer the responsibility of the record label. Instead, that responsibility falls on Apple, which runs the iTunes Music Store. As such, Eminem and Eight Mile Style believe that the artists are entitled to a larger share of digital downloads, and less should go to the labels.

Eminem and Apple have had their share of disputes in the past. In 2004, the rapper sued the iPod maker after he alleged that Apple illegally used the song "Lose Yourself" in an advertisement without his permission. That suit was later settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.