Two bands in the US are suing Sony Music over fees earned from digital downloads.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, the ageing rock bands Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick allege that they and other groups are being shortchanged by Sony Music because the record company is still charging them a fee for physical distribution even though the tracks are being downloaded.

Both bands contend that when Sony Music sells downloads of their songs through such services as iTunes, it amounts to the licensing of their music, not its distribution, entitling them to more generous royalties.

Before digital downloads record companies would charge bands a nominal fee for extra costs incurred such making the record or CD, packaging charges, restocking costs and losses due to breakage.

The amount as stake is massive, according to the suit, this would mean the band receives 30 cents instead of just 4.5 cents for every download sold.

The bands are seeking to have the suit declared a class action, which would cover all Sony artists who signed deals between 1962 and 2002. The Allman Brothers Band signed its current Sony deal in 1989. Cheap Trick’s deal dates to 1976.

Brian Caplan, an attorney for the bands estimated that there may be 2,500 recording artists covered by the class.

So far Sony Music has yet to issue a statement regarding the lawsuit.