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Friday, September 25, 2009, 05:55 am PT (08:55 am ET)

Eminem publisher begins trial with Apple over royalties

Unable to reach a settlement before Thursday, Eight Mile Style, publisher of rapper Eminem, and Apple went to trial over royalties for the sale of the artist's songs on iTunes.

Also a target of the publisher is Aftermath records, the company that controls Eminem's songs. Eminem and Eight Mile Style have alleged that Apple is offering downloads of his songs without proper permission.

According to The Associated Press, Apple revealed in day one of the trial that Aftermath receives 70 cents for each iTunes download, and Eight Mile Style earns 9.1 cents for each song sold.

Apple has argued that its agreement with Aftermath has granted it the right to sell Eminem's songs. Eight Mile Style, in return, has not asked for the company to stop selling the artist's songs. Apple's attorney noted that the company continues to cash its royalty checks, which have amounted to "a lot of money."

But Eight Mile Style and Eminem assert that they are owed $2.5 million from Apple on the sale of the artist's songs. Of that, nearly a half-million is from his biggest hit, "Lose Yourself."

Eminem, whose legal name is Marshall Mathers, is not expected in court for the trial, which could last a week.

The artist has had his share of legal run-ins with Apple in the past. In 2004, he sued over the use of the song "Lose Yourself" in an iPod ad. The issue was later settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

In 2007, he sued again over alleged copyright violations. That complaint eventually led to the trial that began Thursday. At the heart of the matter is whether record labels have the right to turn an artist's recordings into digital downloads for sale on the Internet. Eminem and Eight Mile Style believe that further permission and new, separate contracts should be required for digital distribution.