Legal and Management

Kanye West & EMI Near Settlement Agreement (Again)

Kanye West
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Sean Combs

Kanye West attends Sean Combs 50th Birthday Bash presented by Ciroc Vodka on Dec. 14, 2019 in Los Angeles. 

Kanye West and EMI have agreed to settle their contract dispute. According to court papers filed in the Southern District of New York, a settlement between the parties has been reached and the case will be dismissed on Feb. 14.    

"The parties are very close to finalizing a settlement agreement and expect to have a final settlement agreement by Feb. 15," according to a letter from EMI attorney Robert Jacobs sent to the judge overseeing the case.    

EMI sued West in March 2019 for damages after what it called in court documents a response to "West's efforts to renege on his bargained-for contractual obligations to the company." EMI said in its initial court filing that West, "represented by some of the top law firms in the music industry," decided "to enter into an extensively negotiated co-publishing agreement with EMI in 2003."   

Per the co-publishing agreement, West was paid "substantial advances and royalties in exchange for a share of the copyrights in and the revenues generated by his musical compositions" for a period of time including a 12-year period after West fulfills delivery, according to EMI court documents. The original contract specified that West would deliver three new musical compositions embodied on albums each year for a three year period. In addition, West also transferred to EMI his rights in songs he wrote prior to the 2003 agreement.  

EMI also said West subsequently modified the initial agreement seven times granting extensions, the last in 2014. EMI said the agreements stated that New York law would govern and in exchange that West received tens of millions of dollars in advance payments. 

EMI's lawsuit for damages was a response to West filing his lawsuit against EMI in California seeking to terminate the contract relying on California labor code which makes contracts for personal service unenforceable after seven years. West argued that his 2003 deal combined with extensions added to a lack of freedom and should be declared void under California law. 

EMI countered saying in court papers that not only was West's contract not a personal services contract but also that New York law governs their agreement, which contained a specific New York forum selection clause. EMI accused West of forum shopping in an "attempt to evade his contractual commitments to EMI," according to court documents. 

Details of the final settlement between have not been made public. Neither attorneys for West or EMI responded to Billboard's request for comment.