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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pink Floyd, EMI Brawl Over iTunes Royalties


Pink Floyd and its label, EMI, are battling over online royalties stemming from a contested clause in their decade-old contract.

The developer of The Dark Side of the Moon and other top-selling albums claims its contract with EMI requires its music to be sold as an entire album, not the single tracks that EMI has permitted iTunes to distribute.

The band’s attorney, Robert Howe, told a London court on Tuesday, “It’s a matter of fact that the defendant has been permitting individual tracks to be downloaded online and that therefore they have been allowing albums not to be sold in their original configuration,” Bloomberg News reported.

The case highlights the common dispute between rights holders and publishers over how to deal today with royalties for intellectual property born and contracted prior to the explosion of online digital sales.

Pink Floyd, however, said more was at stake than royalties in the internet age. The psychedelic-music band’s musical craft is being misrepresented when sold in singles, Howe said.

“Pink Floyd is well-known for performing seamless pieces. Many of the songs blend into each other,” Howe told the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

EMI told the court that the restrictions do not apply to online sales.

When Pink Floyd’s latest contract was crafted in 1999, “iTunes didn’t even exist,” EMI attorney Elizabeth Jones said.

Photo: oddstock/Flickr

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