Kanye West’s Song Sued For King Crimson Sample
Universal Music Group (UMG) is facing a lawsuit over Kanye West‘s 2010 song, “Power,” which used a sample of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM), mechanical rights holder to the prog-rock band’s song, claim that UMG has been underpaying on streaming royalties arising from “Power.”
According to the lawsuit filed by DCM, West included the song on his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and members of King Crimson are listed in the credits for the track, but the singer did not properly license the King Crimson song before he uploaded “Power” to YouTube, where it has since garnered almost 134 million views.
Upon learning the matter, UMG and DCM along with West and his production company Rock the World, have an agreement to keep the sample in return that they pay King Crimson a royalty rate of 5.33% for each copy of “Power” that are sold or “otherwise exploited.”
However, according to DCM’s lawsuit filed in the U.K. High Court last month, UMG “has failed, and continues to fail, to comply with its royalty accounting obligations in respect of one mode of exploitation, namely the making available of the ‘Power’ recording to consumers through so-called ‘streaming’ services.”
The lawsuit claims that on the 2010 terms of the license agreement, UMG are required to pay DCM a royalty figure the same terms that West receives for the streaming track that was equivalent to a track on a physical CD, not the lower royalty percentage than what CD sales would have produced.
In a statement posted to Facebook, King Crimson’s guitarist Robert Fripp wrote:
“There is a longer story to be told, and likely to astound innocents and decent, ordinary people who believe that one is paid equitably for their work, and on the appointed payday.”
In 2012, Fripp argued UMG led unauthorized releases under his name. He pointed West’s use of “21st Century Schizoid Man” as one example of King Crimson’s music being used without the band’s permission. The guitarist said that time:
“Going back to early King Crimson, the remarkable explosion of the creative impulse came from these young men who didn’t know what they were doing, yet were able to do it. What has changed in 40 years? It’s very simple: Forty years ago there was a market economy. Today there is a market society – today everything, including ethics, has a price.”