Tidal has been streaming much of Prince’s digital catalog without permission, according to a new lawsuit filed by the Purple Rain icon’s estate and reviewed by Billboard. Prince’s label (NPG Records) and publishing arm (NPG Music Publishing) filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. district court in Minnesota on Tuesday against Roc Nation that alleges Tidal is committing copyright infringement by continuing to host the late artist’s back catalog, including 15 albums of rare material posted to the service in June. The StarTribune first reported the story.
The lawsuit asserts that on Aug. 1, 2015, NPG and Roc Nation entered an agreement to allow Tidal to exclusively stream (and sell) Prince’s "next newly recorded" studio album, which turned out to be HitNRun: Phase 1, released Sept. 7, 2015, for 90 days from the date of the agreement. According to the claim, Tidal misinterpreted that language and began "exploiting many copyrighted Prince works in addition" to the new album in early June -- effectively, those 15 albums posted on Prince's birthday.
As Billboard previously reported, Roc Nation and Tidal believe that an arrangement with NPG dated Aug. 1, 2015 gave it the right to "exclusively stream [Prince's] entire catalog of music, with limited exceptions," according to paperwork filed Nov. 11 in Minnesota district court. In those documents, Roc Nation says it asserted its rights to the catalog in three claims filed across May and October of this year.