Kanye West is the versatile rapper of the industry who recently composed his biggest hit DONDA 2. Ye’s Yeezy brand has been very popular in the streetwear community. Ye’s collaborations with The Gap have been a global success. It seems Kanye ran into trouble with his past track “Power.”
Variety reports that Kanye West’s 2010 song “Power” has prompted a lawsuit against Universal Music Group for allegedly sampling prog rock band King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM), the owner of the mechanical rights (the original version of the song) to “21st Century Schizoid Man,” claimed that UMG has been underpaying on streaming royalties arising from “Power.”
According to the lawsuit, West sampled the King Crimson track without permission before uploading it to YouTube in 2010, where it has since received nearly 134 million views. “Power” was also included on his fifth studio album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
When DCM discovered West’s copyright infringement, they contacted UMG, who, along with West and his production company Rock the World, signed an agreement with DCM two months later legally allowing West to sample the King Crimson track in exchange for a 5.33 percent royalty on each copy of “Power” sold or “otherwise exploited.”
The license agreement requires UMG to pay DCM a royalty on the same terms that West receives royalties from the track. And, under the terms of West’s contract with UMG at the time, the royalty figure for a streaming track was the same as the royalty figure for a track on a physical CD.
However, according to DCM’s lawsuit, which was filed in the United Kingdom’s High Court last month, UMG “has failed, and continues to fail, to comply with its royalty accounting obligations in respect of one mode of exploitation, namely the making available of the Power recording to consumers through so-called ‘streaming services.
They effectively argue that UMG should pay streaming royalties based on the amounts they would have received if those streams were physical CD sales, as per the 2010 contract. Instead, according to the lawsuit, UMG has been paying a percentage of what they actually receive (from platforms like Spotify) for each stream, which is less than it would have been for CD sales.
DMG is now requesting payment of all past-due sums as well as interest. They also want the court to issue a declaration outlining the proper basis for accounting for streaming royalties. The suit comes as artists in the United Kingdom seek more equitable terms for streaming royalties from major labels, with the United Kingdom Department of Culture, Music, and Sport investigating the economics of music streaming. UMG representatives did not respond by press time. Attorneys for DCM declined to comment.
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