Pink Floyd emerges victorious in iTunes dispute with EMI

Thu, Mar 11, 2010

Legal, News

A few days ago we reported that Pink Floyd and their record label EMI were warring over iTunes royalties. Part of the problem was Pink Floyd’s contention that their contract did grant EMI permission to sell their music on a song by song basis via iTunes. While some artists have undoubtedly made millions of dollars via singles on iTunes, Pink Floyd believes that its albums should be digested in their entirety, and that each song is¬†inextricably¬†tied and connected with the next. That being the case, Pink Floyd believes that selling their album 1 song at a time is a knock against their artistic integrity.

The obvious problem, though, is that Pink Floyd’s current contract was drawn up in 1999 – years before iTunes even existed. So while EMI was prohibited from selling CD tracks as singles, the issues of whether or not that should apply to digital sales was somewhat cloudy.

Until now.

In a recent ruling from the High Court in London, a Judge has sided with Pink Floyd in their quest for over 10 million pounds in unpaid royalties. While EMI has not yet been ordered to stop selling individual Pink Floyd tracks on iTunes and other music download services, that may very well be next on the agenda.

In articulating the reasoning behind the decision, Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt (gotta love that name) wrote that there was a clause in Pink Floyd’s current contract which is intended to “preserve the artistic integrity of the albums.”

Now “artistic integrity” is naturally an idea open to interpretation, but the final deterimination should obviously be left up to the artists themselves. Morritt went on to say that EMI was “not entitled to exploit recording by online distribution or by any other means other than the original album, without the consent of Pink Floyd.”

Per the Court’s ruling, EMI will pay $60,000 to Pink Floyd, with a further fine to be decided in the future.

And the battle of individual song sales vs. artistic integrity rages on.

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