Columbia Records is facing the prospect of having to pull the new deluxe edition of Beyonce’s “B’Day” from store shelves amid a legal dispute over publishing rights. But rather than remove the release from stores altogether, Columbia parent company Sony BMG plans to manufacture and distribute a new version of the deluxe edition, minus one track featuring the challenged copyright, multiple sources say.
At the heart of the controversy is the track and accompanying video “Still in Love (Kissing You),” a new reworking of Des’ree’s 1996 song “I’m Kissing You.”
The Royalty Network Inc., a publishing company administering the copyright on behalf of Timothy Attack, co-writer of the song, alleges that Sony BMG didn’t receive their permission to use “I’m Kissing You.” It is pressing the matter by filing a copyright infringement complaint with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York — a move that has led to a temporary halt of distribution of the album.
Sony BMG, Sony BMG Sales Enterprise, Beyonce, her B-Day Publishing company and EMI April Music are all named in the suit.
A preliminary injunction hearing is set for May 4, which could require Sony BMG to permanently stop distributing the copies of “B’Day — Deluxe Edition” and “B’Day — Deluxe Edition/Video Anthology,” a special Wal-Mart version of the release, and perhaps even remove unsold discs from store shelves. As part of the temporary cease-and-desist, “Still in Love (Kissing You)” has been yanked from digital services (though the rest of the album remains) and the “Still in Love” video has been pulled from video outlets.
Retail sources estimate that Sony BMG has shipped several hundred thousand copies of the deluxe editions to date. The editions, which include the top 10 Hot 100 hit “Beautiful Liar,” a duet with Shakira, have sold 214,000 copies since their release at the beginning of April, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Retail and legal sources suggest that the matter can still go away for the right price. But retail sources say Sony BMG seems disinclined to settle. The company has put the word out that the current version of “B’Day — Deluxe Edition” is no longer available for order and that it plans to soon issue a new replacement version. The cost is expected to be minimal to Sony BMG, because most of the product that had initially hit stores has been sold and the company needed to manfacure more units anyway, sources say.
Reps for Sony BMG, Columbia and Beyonce didn’t respond to requests for comment. Anthony Motta, attorney for The Royalty Network declined comment. Additional reporting by Ed Christman.