Aretha Franklin's publishing company sued over royalties

DETROIT (AP) -- A longtime songwriting partner of Aretha Franklin has sued her publishing company, claiming it did not sign a royalty agreement for a song on her recently released album.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit by Norman D. West also accuses Springtime Publishing Inc., of copyright infringement over an earlier song and seeks unspecified damages to ensure future royalties.

West said no royalty agreement was signed for "Put It Back Together Again." That song and "New Day," which West said he co-wrote, appear on "Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love." The CD was released this spring -- her first studio album in about eight years.

West, 45, and Franklin have worked together on songs for more than 20 years. His lawsuit asks a judge to order Springtime Publishing to sign the royalty agreement.

"These are two parties that have a long-standing working collaboration," West's attorney, Jeffrey Thennisch, told The Detroit News. "Mr. West has the utmost respect for Springtime and everyone associated with it. Mr. West has told me that he owes much of his career to Aretha Franklin and that he views her as both a mentor and a guiding force in his career."

The lawsuit was filed, West claims, after private attempts to settle the dispute failed over the past year.

West's copyright infringement claim is over an earlier song, "Watch My Back."

The Associated Press left messages Saturday seeking comment from Franklin's attorney.

Franklin has had a busy and eventful past few months. The music legend underwent surgery in early December in Detroit for an undisclosed ailment. She attributed losing more than 80 pounds to a change in diet and exercise.

She fractured a toe on her left foot in June, but continues to perform.

Published: Tue, Jul 19, 2011