Cher wins long-running royalty dispute with Sonny Bono's widow

Cher has won a long-running battle over royalties with Sonny Bono's widow.

The 'Believe' hitmaker had sued Mary Bono and accused her of withholding payments from songs within the Sonny + Cher catalogue, with the lawsuit arguing she was entitled to a 50/50 share of royalties as set out in an agreement she and her ex-husband had made in their 1978 divorce settlement.

And now, US District Judge John Kronstadt ruled at a Los Angeles federal court that “a right to receive royalties is distinct from a grant of copyright”, and Cher should continue receiving payments for the duo's songs, which include 'I Got You Babe' and 'The Beat Goes On'.

Cher is owed around $418,000.

Sonny died in a skiing accident in 1998 at the age of 62, with his share of the publishing revenue passing to his heirs, and the legal case came about after Mary exercised a feature of copyright law that allows songwriters and their heirs to win back rights they have signed away in 2016, as she argued she now owned her late husband's publishing rights.

Royalties were then withdrawn from the 78-year-old singer in 2021, prompting her to take legal action and her team insisting the termination clause used by Mary was "wholly inapplicable" to the royalty agreement set out in the former couple's divorce settlement.

The ruling may not have come as a surprise as in February, the judge said during a hearing: “I don’t think the notice of termination can affect [Cher’s] notice of contractual rights.”

The former couple - who had son Chaz, 54, together - created and performed together as Sonny and Cher during the 1960s and 70s and had their own self-titled TV show from 1971 to 1974. They were married from 1964 until 1975, with Sonny going on to wed Susie Coelho in 1981 before they split in 1984.

He and Mary, his fourth wife, tied the knot in 1986, and had two children together. Sonny also had a daughter with first wife Donna Rankin.

Meanwhile, Cher also has son Elijah, 47, with second husband Greg Allman and is currently dating producer Alexander 'A.E.' Edwards.