Pink Floyd wins download battle against EMI

British Rock band Pink Floyd won a court battle with EMI Thursday.

Lefteris Pitarakis/ Associated Press/ File
In a victory for the concept album, Britain's High Court on Thursday March 11, 2010 ordered record company EMI Group Ltd. to stop selling downloads of Pink Floyd tracks individually rather than as part of the band's original records. The rock group sued the music label, saying its contract prohibited selling the tracks "unbundled" from their original album setting.

British rock band Pink Floyd on Thursday won a court battle with EMI in a ruling that prevents the record company from selling single downloads on the internet from the group's concept albums.

The outcome of the other element of the legal tussle in London's High Court -- concerning the level of royalties paid to the band by the label -- was unclear, as that part of the judgment was held in secret, the Press Association reported.

The ruling is the latest blow to EMI, the smallest of the four major record companies which is seeking new funds to avoid breaching debt covenants.


Pink Floyd signed with the label over 40 years ago and its back catalog has been outsold only by that of the Beatles.

The band, whose albums include "The Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall," was challenging EMI's ability to "unbundle" their albums and sell individual tracks online.

Judge Andrew Morritt accepted arguments by the group that EMI was bound by a contract forbidding it to sell its records other than as complete albums without written consent.

The judge said the purpose of a clause in the contract was to "preserve the artistic integrity of the albums.

"Pink Floyd alleged that EMI had allowed online downloads from the albums and parts of tracks to be used as ringtones.

The record company had argued that the contract related only to physical records and not to online distribution.

EMI successfully applied to the court for the royalties aspect of the case to be kept secret for reasons of "commercial confidentiality."

Lawyers said it was the first time a royalties dispute between artists and their record companies had been held in private, excluding the media and public.The judge ordered EMI to pay Pink Floyd's costs in the case, estimated at 60,000 pounds ($90,000), and refused the company permission to appeal.


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