Prince Estate Responds to Heirs' 'Meritless' Efforts to Get Out of Tidal Streaming Deal

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Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum on Feb. 19, 1985 in Inglewood, Calif. 

They had requested a judge reconsider his approval of a settlement due to recent reports Tidal inflated its streaming numbers -- allegations the company denies.

Prince's estate on Wednesday (June 20) called a request from his heirs "meritless" that a Minnesota judge reconsider his decision granting the streaming service exclusive rights to an upcoming posthumous release, saying it should be denied. 

Attorneys for heirs Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson and John R. Nelson submitted the request on Tuesday that was heavily redacted to the public, but according to Wednesday's response letter from the late musician's estate it requested reconsideration on a May 9 order approving a settlement agreement. That deal included streaming rights for an upcoming album of unreleased Prince music exclusively on Tidal for one week before it will be available for download and two two weeks before its release in physical formats. It is unclear if or when the album will be shared with non-Tidal streaming services.

But in the estate's response on Wednesday, attorney Lora M. Friedemann on behalf of executor Comerica Bank and Trust cited Minnesota general rule of practice that states "motions to reconsider are prohibited except by express permission of the court, which will be granted only upon a showing of compelling circumstances" and added such motions are only appropriate in very rare circumstances. The estate argued that motions for reconsideration should only be granted where there has been intervening legal developments or the earlier decision is "palpably wrong in some respect." Per Friedemann's response, Prince's heirs, the Nelsons, failed to raise any such issues in their request. 

Instead, the Nelsons' request is based off a Norwegian newspaper's report that was published over six weeks ago alleging Tidal falsely stated the streaming numbers for Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life of Pablo albums. Tidal has denied these allegations as "lies and falsehoods" and has stated that information "was stolen and manipulated."

"Unproven media reports do not constitute an 'intervening legal development,' or demonstrate that the Court's Order was 'palpably wrong in some respect,'" wrote Friedemann. "Moreover, the Nelsons fail to explain how unsubstantiated media reports about Tidal bear in any respect on the settlement, and they do not."

Prince's estate also argued the request is moot anyway, since last month's settlement was the result of litigation in both the state and federal courts and the dismissal of claims against Tidal. "The Nelsons offer no explanation how a request for 'reconsideration' could effectively wind back the clock, either in this lawsuit or the federal case," wrote Friedemann for the estate, but they still asked the court to take action to "the extent the Court can do anything." She continued, "Simply put, the Court cannot 'do anything,' and certainly cannot reopen litigation that has been dismissed with prejudice in two forums."

The May 9 agreement between Prince's estate and the heirs was intended to end a copyright dispute between the two parties that involved rights to his music. Before the iconic musicians' death in April 2016, Prince and Tidal made a deal to exclusively stream his HITnRUN albums. Tidal believed the arrangement gave it exclusive rights to the artist's entire catalog, but that was later disputed in court by Prince's record label (NPG Records) and publishing arm (NPG Music Publishing).

Reps for the Nelsons did not respond to a request for comment by time of publishing.