For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

From "See Emily Play" to "See EMI Pay"

The IPKat thanks lots of enthusiastic readers, of whom New York stalwart Miri Frankel was the first, for sending him links to all the news items concerning the High Court for England and Wales victory of British rock group Pink Floyd over recording company EMI. The group, famed for its concept albums in which tracks blend seamlessly (if sometimes puzzlingly) into one another, has established its right to control and indeed prohibit the manner in which EMI has been offering downloads and ringtones of single tracks.


According to the news report in the New York Times,
"The ... effect of the ruling by a judge in London on the level of royalties the band receives remained unclear, however, as that part of the judgment was held in secret, the Press Association reported. A source close to the band said those talks were “ongoing.”
Lawyers said it was the first time a royalties dispute between artists and their record companies had been held in private, after EMI successfully applied for a news blackout for reasons of “commercial confidentiality.” [While one can understand EMI's wish to keep coy about its figures, we all want to know them -- it's part of our quest for a more informed path to the development of new business models for exploiting copyright in the digital era]
The ruling is the latest blow to EMI, the smallest of the four major record companies which is seeking new funds to avoid breaching its debt covenants. An EMI spokesman was not immediately available for comment. ...
Several of EMI’s top acts, including Pink Floyd and Queen, are reportedly in talks with other labels, following the exodus of other banks [A felicitous typo, says Merpel, given the immense wealth of these bands and the impoverished condition of many post-crash financial institutions], like the Rolling Stones and Radiohead, since Terra Firma took control.
Pink Floyd signed with EMI over 40 years ago and sales of its back catalogue is only outpaced by that of The Beatles. The band, whose albums include “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall,” went to court to challenge EMI’s right to unbundle the band’s records and sell individual tracks online.
The judge in the case, Andrew Morritt, accepted arguments by the group that EMI was bound by a contract forbidding it from selling records other than as complete albums without written consent. The judge said the purpose of a clause in the contract, drawn up more than a decade ago, was to “preserve the artistic integrity of the albums.”
Pink Floyd alleged that EMI had allowed online downloads from the albums and parts of tracks to be used as ringtones for mobile phones. The judge ordered EMI to pay Pink Floyd’s costs in the case, estimated at £60,000, or $90,000 [£40,000 or $60,000 according to NME.com], and refused the company permission to appeal.
Right: Pink Floyd's members seem to have been around forever. Some will surely outlive their own copyright terms. Here's a photo of them warming up for a gig in 2035.
Pink Floyd’s body of work is a coveted commodity. The band members Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason all appeared on the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List with personal fortunes estimated at £85 million, £78 million and £50 million respectively".
The IPKat awaits the full report of the decision in BAILII, not least because he is curious to see whether any moral rights issues were raised.

See Emily Play here and here

Further coverage here for The Times, The Telegraph, NME, The Guardian,

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