NPG Records, arbiter of Prince’s back catalogue, is suing Jay Z’s Roc Nation for alleged copyright infringement – and seeking damages that could top $18 million.
Represented by Stinson Leonard Street LLP, the label claims that TIDAL has been hosting Prince’s material without permission.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday (November 15) in the U.S. District of Minnesota court – and obtained by MBW – also names NPG Publishing as a plaintiff.
It alleges that a ‘Letter of intent’ was signed by NPG on August 1 last year giving TIDAL permission to stream Prince’s last studio album, Hit N Run: Phase 1 – with an exclusivity period of 90 days.
But as anyone who’s used TIDAL will know, it’s streaming many more Prince tracks than that.
The Purple One’s entire catalogue remains available on the service as a key unique selling point; it is not playable on rivals such as Spotify and Apple Music.
“began exploiting some of these works after Prince’s death and on or about June 7, 2016.”
According to the lawsuit, TIDAL “began exploiting some of these works after Prince’s death and on or about June 7, 2016” without permission.
NPG acknowledges that in a series of filings, Roc Nation has claimed it has written consent to host the tracks – but says the company has repeatedly failed to submit documented evidence.
In terms of the damages being sought, no figure is given by NPG.
However, its filing does ask the Court for “Roc Nation to account for and pay to Plaintiffs their actual damages in the form of Roc Nation’s profits and Plaintiffs’ damages, or… statutory damages up to the maximum amount allowed for wilful infringement of copyright”.
That maximum amount is a substantial figure.
NPG has submitted an Exhibit document containing details of more than 120 Prince tracks.
The maximum statutory amount allowed for wilful infringement by TIDAL would be $150,000 per copyright.
Across 120 songs, that’s a total of $18m+, plus attorney fees and court costs.
Music Business Worldwide