March 11, 2010 6:51 pm

Pink Floyd wins EMI court case

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Pink Floyd has won a court claim against EMI that prevents the record company from selling single downloads of the band’s concept albums on the internet.

The band had gone to the High Court in London to seek clarification of its contract with EMI, which was last negotiated in 1998-99, before the massive expansion of music online.

Sir Andrew Morritt, chancellor of the High Court, giving an oral judgment on Thursday, accepted arguments that EMI was bound by a contract preventing it selling its records other than as complete albums without written consent.

The band had sought that EMI should not be allowed to unbundle songs from its albums and sell them online individually, but that albums should be sold as a whole with the tracks in a predetermined order.

Sir Andrew accepted arguments made by Pink Floyd’s barristers that a clause in their contract referred to preserving the “artistic integrity of the albums”.

EMI had argued that the restrictions in the band’s contract referred to the selling of physical albums, not to online sales.

The ruling is a further blow for EMI, which is owned by Guy Hands’ Terra Firma private equity group.

Since Terra Firma’s ill-fated £4.2bn ($6.3bn) purchase of the label just before the credit markets froze in 2007, debt-laden EMI has hit numerous problems. EMI has already parted ways with the Rolling Stones and Radiohead.

The Pink Floyd case was heard in the High Court this week but went into private session part way through the hearing after EMI made an application citing commercial confidentiality.

Sir Andrew gave part of his oral judgment in private – excluding the public and media – relating to a challenge over the level of royalties paid by the record company. He later ordered that EMI pay Pink Floyd’s legal costs and refused to give the record company leave to appeal.

EMI said in a statement on Thursday: “The litigation has been running for well over a year and most of its points have already been settled. This week’s court hearing was around the interpretation of two contractual points, both linked to the digital sale of Pink Floyd’s music. There are further arguments to be heard and the case will go on for some time.”

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