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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 18:55 GMT
Spector in 2m payout to The Ronettes
New York was their home in the 1940s
The Ronettes were all born in New York
An American appeals court has ordered record producer Phil Spector to pay about $3m (2.09m) to The Ronettes, the 1960s band he discovered and managed.

The female trio, which included his wife, was paid little from royalties, while Spector earned millions at their expense, the State Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled on Tuesday.

The decision upheld a lower court ruling that Spector had violated his 1963 contract with the band.

A judge in the 1998 trial ruled that Spector, who kept the rights to recordings, should have shared with the band any royalties made beyond record sales.

Yet Spector sold the recordings for use as background music in movies, videocassette recordings and advertising.

For example, the Ronettes' biggest hit, Be My Baby, was played with the opening credits of the movie Dirty Dancing.

'Paid them nothing'

For such sales, industry custom required Spector, who kept the rights to all Ronettes recordings, to pay a 50% royalty to the recording artists.

The judge said he paid the women nothing.

The appeals court ordered Spector, 57, to pay Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett Spector Greenfield, 57, her sister Estelle Bennett, 55, and their cousin Nedra Talley Ross, 55, $2.97m (2.07m) plus interest.

Spector's lawyer, Andrew H Bart, argued that if the contract did not give a specific right to the recording artists, that right was retained by the producer.

Controversial

Spector and Greenfield divorced in 1974 after being married for six years.

Spector is one of the industry's best known and controversial figures.

He collaborated with The Ramones in a somewhat strained relationship.

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