Kanye West Sues Sony and Universal to Get Back Rights to His Works

Will Kanye West succeed in getting his publishing and recording catalogs back?

Typically, artists can’t ‘buy back’ their publishing catalog whenever they want.  And simply suing a label doesn’t mean a massive, multi-national corporation is going to hand back a valuable collection of masters.

Don’t tell that to Kanye West.

Several months ago, West told his followers he would pay any amount to receive his publishing catalog from Sony/ATV.

In a video uploaded on Twitter last October, he said,

I went to go buy my publishing from Sony/ATV, and they said it was $8 million, $9 million.  And when I went to buy it, they told me no, I couldn’t buy my publishing… I have the money to buy my publishing, and they told me that I couldn’t buy my publishing.

Now, to get back the rights to his catalog, West has gone to court.

Taking on Sony/EMI and Universal.

Kanye West has now filed two separate lawsuits at Los Angeles Superior Court.

The first lawsuit targets EMI Music Publishing, now a part of Sony/ATV.

The publisher had administered his songs since 2003.  That was right before his debut album, The College Dropout.  West claims to have written over 200 songs by 2011, which he then gave to EMI.

The second targets Roc-a-Fella Records, UMG Recordings, Def Jam, and Bravado International Group, UMG’s merchandising division.

The lawsuits reportedly remain ‘entirely redacted’ and not in the public domain.  Yet, hinting at the complaints in October, West said,

So, Big Jon [Platt], Marty [Bandier], whoever is involved, I need my publishing.  I got the money.  I’m not going to say the ‘s’ word.  I’m not Prince; I don’t need to write it on my face.

One line from the EMI lawsuit reads,

There now exists a dispute between Plaintiffs and Defendant EMI regarding the parties’ rights and obligations to one another under the EMI Contract and Extensions.

Similar language exists from the second lawsuit.

XXL and TMZ had erroneously written that West had sued Roc-a-Fella Records over a dispute with Jay-Z.  This prompted a response from his representative.

The media reports are wrong.  Kanye West did not sue Jay-Z.   Mr. West sued a company that Jay-Z once owned a piece of, Roc-A-Fella Records.  Jay-Z sold his interest in that company many years ago.  There is no fight between Kanye West and Jay-Z.

In both lawsuits, West has sought declaratory relief.  He’s also alleged unjust enrichment by EMI, Roc-a-Fella, Def Jam, UMG, and Bravado.  To collect royalties, West has demanded a transfer of properties, thus reverting the rights of his works back to him.


Featured image by U2Soul (CC by 2.0).