Kanye West Settles Lawsuit Against Publishing Giant EMI - Black Enterprise

Kanye West Settles Lawsuit Against Publishing Giant EMI

Kanye West
(Wikimedia Commons)

According to Rolling Stone, superstar Kanye West and EMI Music Publishing have reached an agreement on the lawsuit West filed against them. The agreement, for an undisclosed amount, is expected to be finalized in 90 days. West was seeking to be released from a contract he signed early in his career.

West filed his lawsuit against EMI in January, demanding to be released from the contract he signed with EMI in 2003, which he likened to ‘servitude.’ He signed the agreement while recording his 2004 debut album, The College Dropout.

The rapper claimed the contract, which forbids him from retiring as a songwriter, recording artist, or producer, is illegal under California labor codes. West used California’s statute limiting personal services contracts against the publishing company as the basis to void his deal, stating that he cannot be contractually obligated to “perform” for more than seven years. The publishing giant responded by counter-suing West, alleging that the rapper was breaching the deal he signed with them.

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Last year, West posted videos on social media, including one he titled, “Mind Control,” in which he claimed Sony-ATV, which owns EMI, turned down his efforts to buy back his publishing. “I went to go buy my publishing from Sony/ATV and they said, ‘It’s $8 million [or] $9 million’ and when I went to buy it, they told me ‘No,’ I couldn’t buy my publishing,” he said. “I have the money to buy [back] my publishing. And they told me that I couldn’t buy my publishing… It’s like the control.”

EMI Publishing is responsible for ensuring that songwriters and composers receive their due payment when their songs are used commercially. The arrangements of a typical publishing contract allow a songwriter or composer to assign the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company does all the work involving licenses, compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties, and distributes them to the composers/songwriters. They also secure commissions for music and anything pertaining to promoting existing compositions to recording artists, film, and television.