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EMI fires back in Kanye West publishing contract dispute

By | Published on Monday 11 March 2019

Kanye West

Sony/ATV’s EMI Music Publishing has hit back at Kanye West, who sued the music publishing major back in January. The rapper is trying to get out of his deal with the publisher, describing his EMI contract as amounting to “servitude”.

West sued in California, in part citing the Californian law that says that services contracts cannot last for longer than seven years. West has been in business with EMI since 2003.

In its own lawsuit, filed last week, EMI says that its contract with West specifically states that it falls under the laws of New York not California, and that any litigation in relation to the deal must be heard in courts on the east coast not the west.

The rapper, the publisher adds, was advised by leading attorneys when negotiating his deal with EMI and knew full well that the contract stipulated that any future dispute must be heard in a New York court.

Therefore, says EMI, West can’t file a sneaky lawsuit in California now, in a bid to utilise that state’s seven year rule. Not that it would apply in this case anyway, EMI also argues in its court filing, because its deal with West is a rights agreement not a services agreement.

Whether or not California’s seven year rule should apply to record or publishing contracts has been debated before, and has been crucial to previous disputes between American music companies and artists. Though EMI – despite already presenting its argument as to why the rule should not apply in this case – will be hoping that it doesn’t have to debate that matter any further by forcing its West litigation eastwards to New York.

EMI’s legal filing also confirms that West still owes the publisher additional works under its current contract with the rapper.