Cher Wins Copyright Lawsuit Against Ex-Husband Sonny Bono's Widow Mary over Song Royalties

A California judge determined that the star is owed more than $418,000 in unpaid royalties

<p>Steve Granitz/FilmMagic</p> Cher in May 2024.

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Cher in May 2024.

Nearly three years after she first filed suit against Mary Bono, Cher has won her copyright lawsuit against the widow of ex-husband Sonny Bono.

The singer, 78, sued Mary in October 2021 over a dispute involving royalty payments from songs she recorded with Sonny & Cher — and on Wednesday, May 29, a California judge determined that the star is owed more than $418,000 in unpaid royalties.

“As to the resulting damages, the parties agree that Wixen distributed at least $187,000 of Composition Royalties to Sonny’s heirs that, but for the invalid termination, would have been distributed to [Cher]; of this amount, at least $93,500 was paid to [Mary]. The parties also do not dispute that, as of June 30, 2022, Wixen [Music Publishing] held $418,156.82 in Composition Royalties that would have been distributed to [Cher],” the judge said, according to court minutes obtained by PEOPLE.

Attorneys for Cher and Mary did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Related: Robbie Williams Was Accidentally 'Rude' to Cher in an Airport by Walking Away Before She 'Finished Talking'

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Cher and Mary Bono in 1998.
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Cher and Mary Bono in 1998.

In 1978, shortly after Cher and Sonny divorced, the couple agreed that the “Believe” singer would get a 50% stake in their Sonny & Cher publishing catalog. When Sonny died in a skiing accident in 1998, Mary was appointed the administrator of his estate, and she and his four children (known collectively as “the heirs”) entered a partnership over the songs.

Wixen Music Publishing became involved in 2011, and according to Cher’s initial complaint, the company “collected and disbursed” her cut of royalties in the years following.

But in 2016, Mary, 62, made use of the “terminations rights” section of the Copyright Act, which allows songwriters or their heirs to win back control of their U.S. publishing rights after 35 years. Cher said that the heirs exercised the termination without her “knowledge of participation.”

Related: Cher Sues Ex Sonny Bono's Widow Mary for $1 Million Over 1960s Hits Rights and Royalties

<p>Marcello Salustri/Mondadori via Getty</p> Sonny Bono and Cher in 1966.

Marcello Salustri/Mondadori via Getty

Sonny Bono and Cher in 1966.

Mary said in 2021 that through those rights, she was able to stop paying Cher her royalties, and so the star sued.

A tentative ruling in February was in Cher’s favor, and Judge John Kronstadt upheld that ruling on Wednesday.

Sonny and Cher were married in 1974, and rose to fame with hits like “I Got You Babe” and a CBS variety show called The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Mary and Sonny married in 1986.

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