King Crimson and Kanye’s Lawsuit Finally Settled

King Crimson and Kanye’s Lawsuit Finally Settled | Society Of Rock Videos

via King Crimson / Youtube

The 2022 lawsuit involving King Crimson and Kanye West has finally been resolved. Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM), which holds the mechanical rights to King Crimson’s 1969 classic “21st Century Schizoid Man,” sued Universal Music Group (UMG) over underpaid streaming royalties for Kanye West’s 2010 track “Power,” which prominently samples the King Crimson song.

The dispute originated back in 2010 when DCM alleged that West had not properly licensed “21st Century Schizoid Man” before uploading “Power” to YouTube and including it on his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. A deal was subsequently reached, allowing West to use the sample in exchange for a 5.33 percent royalty on each copy of “Power” sold. However, over a decade later, DCM contended that the same royalty percentage should apply to digital streams as it does to physical CD sales.

In March 2022, DCM filed a lawsuit in London’s High Court, accusing UMG of failing to comply with its royalty obligations concerning the streaming of “Power.” The lawsuit stated:

“[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 has now been settled out of court, narrowly avoiding a trial that was scheduled to begin this week. While Kanye West was not directly involved in the suit, the settlement’s terms have not been publicly disclosed. According to Variety, DCM received payment as part of the agreement, but both DCM and UMG have declined to comment further on the matter.

Robert Fripp of King Crimson has been vocal over the years about his disputes with UMG and his broader disillusionment with the music industry. Reflecting on the integrity of artistic expression, Fripp told the UK Financial Times in 2012:

“Do you believe that Rostropovich was playing a cello just for a living? Do you believe that Hendrix was playing for money? Music is a language in which we can express our struggle with what it is to be a human being. This is at the center of what created King Crimson. Today I remain responsible for that… how can I lie to that? If I do, I cease to be human.”

The resolution of this lawsuit brings closure to a protracted dispute, highlighting ongoing issues in the music industry regarding fair compensation for digital streaming.

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