Pink Floyd Suing EMI Over Digital Formats, Royalties

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One of the biggest bands in history is now embroiled in a contract dispute with EMI.

Pink Floyd first signed with the label in 1967, though the contract in question was inked in the late 90s. At that point, the digital picture was mostly murky, and legal frameworks mostly rooted in physical formats.  “It was unclear whether record companies would be selling direct to the consumer or through retailers,” attorney Robert Howe noted, while also noting that the iTunes Store had not yet arrived at the time of the contract.

The transitional signing offers lots of opportunity for interpretation – or misinterpretation –  and the members of Floyd are disputing a number of analog-to-digital ‘extensions’. Among a basket of issues, Howe is contesting moves by EMI to ‘unbundle’ music into a-la-carte singles, dismissing claims that de-coupling blocks only applied to physical formats.  Also under dispute is what royalty percentages should be assigned to new, digital formats.

The band first filed the suit in April, though details are just now surfacing.  The case is being heard by the High Court in London.

Of course, all of this comes at an inopportune moment for the defendant.  As the private equity takeover of EMI sours, owner Terra Firma is currently battling Citigroup in court over charges of misrepresentation.  Last week, US District Court judge Jed Rakoff promised to offer a ruling this month on whether Citigroup could move the case to London.

Report by Alexandra Osorio.