- Journal Archives
- Volume 16
- Volume 15
- Volume 14
- Volume 13
- Volume 12
- Volume 11
- Volume 10
- Volume 9
- Volume 8
- Volume 7
- Volume 6
- Volume 5
- Volume 4
- Volume 3
- Volume 2
- Volume 1
While most bands presumably want their songs available on iTunes, last April Pink Floyd took the unusual step of suing its own record label (EMI) to prevent the online sale of individual tracks stripped from its original albums.
Of course, consumers generally favor the “a la carte” model, which allows them to extract exactly what they want from an album (often just one or two songs)–and disregard the rest. Artists are less than enthusiastic about this paradigm, but few bands have seriously fought to maintain the integrity of their albums. (In 2008, for example, Radiohead capitulated after years of holding out.) Fewer still have actually succeeded in their boycott of iTunes. (The Beatles are a notable exception.)
Two reasons probably explain such feeble resistance: first, most bands presumably prefer selling one or two songs online if the alternative is selling no songs at all; second, few bands have the clout to negotiate more favorable terms with the record labels.
Pink Floyd is not one of those bands. (The Dark Side of the Moon, with some 45 million copies sold, remained on the Billboard 200 for an astonishing 15 years!) Renowned for recording “concept albums” around a unified theme, the band renegotiated its contract with EMI in 1999 to preserve control over the artistic integrity of its work. Despite the contract (written long before iTunes even existed), EMI sold individual songs to iTunes, apparently on the theory that its contractual commitment covered only physical media and did not extend to the Internet.
The band sued to enforce the contract and last week the British High Court agreed with Pink Floyd. In a preliminary ruling, Judge Andrew Morritt concluded: “There is nothing in the terms ‘album’ or ‘record’ to suggest they apply to the physical product only.” Pink Floyd Music Ltd v. EMI Records Ltd., 666/09, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (London). Even so, EMI apparently does not plan to immediately halt online sales of Pink Floyd songs.
While some commentators have applauded what they perceive as a principled stand against the record companies, it remains to be seen whether this fight really turns on artistic control–or money. After all, Pink Floyd may yet agree to sell songs individually on iTunes–but with substantially more leverage to command higher royalty payments. Fans who want to believe otherwise ought to ponder why Pink Floyd songs have been playing on the radio–individually–for more than forty years now. As they say in the song . . .
Money, it’s a hitDon’t give me thatDo goody good bull$$$$
– Nathan McGregor
Tagged with: advertising • career • concept albums • contracts • copyright • copyright infringement • courts • Dark Side of the Moon • download • EMI • entertainment • file sharing • financial • government • intellectual property • internet • iTunes • JETLaw • lawsuits • legislation • mp3 • music • pink floyd • radio • royalties • technology
Recent Blog Posts
- Parking Next to Picasso
- Proposed Chinese Legislation Fuels Fears of Tech Firms
- Is Streaming Speech?
- Does Tweaking Your Car’s Software Constitute Fair Use?
- Controlling the Uncontrollable: UK Taking the Driver’s Seat in Driverless Car Technology
- Obama’s Cybersecurity Executive Order: Private Sector Must Help Police the “Wild West”
Tagsadvertising antitrust Apple books career celebrities contracts copyright copyright infringement courts creative content criminal law entertainment Facebook FCC film/television financial First Amendment games Google government intellectual property internet JETLaw journalism lawsuits legislation media medicine Monday Morning JETLawg music NFL patents privacy progress publicity rights radio social networking sports Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) technology telecommunications trademarks Twitter U.S. Constitution