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EMI re-opens its Kanye West litigation after failing to agree a settlement

By | Published on Friday 27 December 2019

EMI Music Publishing

If you thought Kanye West’s big bust up with his publisher EMI might be over by the year’s end, think again. Settlement talks have so far been inconclusive and the Sony/ATV-owned publisher has now asked a judge to re-open the formal legal proceedings that it filed earlier this year.

West sued EMI in January in a bid to get out of his ongoing contractual commitments to the publisher. He sued in the Californian courts. The location was important because key to his case is a rule under Californian state law that says that no one can be forced into a service contract that lasts longer than seven years. West started working with EMI in 2003 meaning, he argued, his commitments to the company ended in 2010.

Whether or not California’s seven year rule applies to record and publishing contracts has long been debated in the US music industry. Though in a countersuit, EMI pointed out that its deals with West fall under the laws of New York State anyway, where there is no seven year rule.

Along the way West claimed that his EMI deal amounted to “servitude”. However, such hyperbole didn’t stop the two sides seeking an out-of-court settlement. And in September legal reps for West and EMI said that an “agreement in principle” had been reached that should be finalised “within 90 days”. It looked like that settlement deal would result in both side’s respective litigation being dropped.

But earlier this week EMI’s reps filed new papers with the courts in New York stating that no final settlement had as yet been agreed, and to that end it wants its lawsuit there to be re-opened.

In its legal filing, EMI said: “Unfortunately, as of today’s date, the parties have been unable to finalise the terms of a settlement agreement, or to finally resolve related issues on which a settlement agreement would be conditioned. As a result, good cause exists, and EMI hereby applies, to reopen the action”.

However, those of you now looking forward to the prospect of West laying into his publisher in a public court hearing may as yet be disappointed.

The publisher had a 27 Dec deadline to re-open its case, so this week’s filing could just be an attempt to buy a few more weeks to get any settlement deal across the line. But who knows? Maybe 2020 will deliver us Kanye v EMI in court. Which would at least give us all something to look forward to.