Pink Floyd Wins U.K. Court Battle With EMI

Pink Floyd won its court battle with EMI on Thursday (March 11) with a ruling that prevents the record company from selling single downloads on the Internet from the group's concept albums.

The outcome of a dispute over the level of royalties the band received remained unclear, however, as that part of the judgment was held in secret, the Press Association reported. A source close to the band said those talks were "ongoing".

Lawyers said it was the first time a royalties dispute between artists and their record companies had been held in private, after EMI successfully applied for a news blackout for reasons of "commercial confidentiality".

The ruling is the latest blow to EMI, which is seeking new funds to avoid breaching debt covenants.

Owner Terra Firma is also embroiled in a legal dispute with Citigroup over advice and financing the U.S. bank provided to enable it to buy EMI in 2007.
And several top acts, including Pink Floyd and Queen, are reportedly in talks with other labels, following the exodus of the Rolling Stones and Radiohead since Terra Firma took over.

Pink Floyd signed with EMI over 40 years ago. The band, whose albums include "The Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall," went to court to challenge EMI's right to "unbundle" their records and sell individual tracks online.

Judge Andrew Morritt accepted arguments by the group that EMI was bound by a contract forbidding it from selling records other than as complete albums without written consent.

The judge said the purpose of a clause in the contract, drawn up more than a decade ago, was to "preserve the artistic integrity of the albums".

Pink Floyd alleged that EMI had allowed online downloads from the albums and parts of tracks to be used as ringtones.

The band's lawyer Robert Howe told the court: "Prohibition applies equally to
the digital product as it would to the physical product, as one would expect from the commercial purpose of the clause.

"There would be a digital free-for-all otherwise."

Elizabeth Jones, representing EMI, countered that the word record "plainly applies to the physical thing -- there is nothing to suggest it applies to online distribution".

The judge ordered EMI to pay Pink Floyd's costs in the case, estimated at £60,000 ($90,000), and refused the company permission to appeal.

The BBC posted the following statement from EMI: "Today's judgment does not require EMI to cease making Pink Floyd's catalogue available as single track downloads, and EMI continues to sell Pink Floyd's music digitally and in other formats.

"This litigation has been running for well over a year and most of its points have already been settled.

"This week's court hearing was around the interpretation of two contractual points, both linked to the digital sale of Pink Floyd's music. But there are further arguments to be heard on this and the case will go on for some time."

Pink Floyd's influential and acclaimed body of work is a coveted commodity. Members Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason all appeared on the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List with personal fortunes estimated at £85 million ($128 million), £78 million ($117 million) and £50 million ($75 million) respectively.