It’s been more than a decade since Kanye West released his classic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but apparently, UMG has been shortchanging a prog Rock band for sampling their work that was used on the album.
According to Variety, Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM) has filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group over it’s sampling of a King Crimson song “21st Century Schizoid Man” which was used on Kanye’s cut “Power” claiming that UMG has been underpaying on streaming royalties from the song for a while now.
In the lawsuit filed, DCM claims that Kanye originally sampled “21st Century Schizoid Man” without permission or a license before uploading the track to YouTube in 2010, where it has since hit almost 134 million views. Once DCM noticed the copyright infringement that Kanye had committed, they reached out to UMG, who — along with West and his production company Rock the World — signed an agreement with DCM two months later legally allowing West to sample the King Crimson track in return for a 5.33% royalty on each copy of “Power” that was sold or “otherwise exploited.”
Unfortunately, DCM feels that UMG isn’t keeping up their end of the bargain with the royalties from the song “in respect of one mode of exploitation, namely the making available of the Power [r]ecording to consumers through so-called ‘streaming’ services.”
In their original agreement UMG is required to pay DCM the same royalties that Kanye himself gets from the the song, and at the time that the deal was made the royalties for a streaming track was actually equivalent to that of a track on a physical CD. But instead of getting that kind of revenue, DCM is claiming that UMG is paying them a percentage of what they get from streaming platforms such as Spotify instead of what it would’ve amounted to as a physical CD sale.
DMG are now seeking payment of all sums due as well as interest. They also want the court to make a declaration setting out the correct basis upon which to account for streaming royalties.
Just more evidence that the music game is shady as hell. Should be interesting to see how the courts rule but it seems like DCM has a pretty sock solid case on their hands.