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Music The Courts The Media United Kingdom

EMI Cannot Unbundle Pink Floyd Songs 601

Posted by timothy
from the but-this-is-on-the-internet dept.
smooth wombat writes "Before the advent of iTunes and MP3s, EMI and Pink Floyd entered into a contract which stated that EMI could not unbundle individual songs from their original album settings. This was insisted upon by the members of Pink Floyd, who wanted to retain artistic control of their works, which they considered 'seamless' pieces of music. However, with the advent of digital downloads, EMI has been selling individual songs through its online store. Pink Floyd sued, claiming EMI was violating the contract, whereas EMI said the contract only applied to physical albums, not Internet sales. Judge Andrew Morritt backed the band, saying the contract protected 'the artistic integrity of the albums.' Judge Morritt also ruled EMI is 'not entitled to exploit recordings by online distribution or by any other means other than the complete original album without Pink Floyd's consent.'"
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EMI Cannot Unbundle Pink Floyd Songs

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  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:42PM (#31442496) Homepage Journal

    I don't remember, how much money does a band get per (legally) downloaded audio track?

    If they want their art to be bundled and only sold that way, and EMI agreed to it, good for them. But at the same time, (assuming they care, they may not) they could also be limiting themselves on the amount of money they could be making.

    As I said, I doubt they care, but it's interesting to me.

  • Radio? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:44PM (#31442532)

    It's funny because radio destroys this "artistic integrity" by playing Pink Floyd singles every day.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:48PM (#31442606) Journal

    I don't remember, how much money does a band get per (legally) downloaded audio track?

    If they want their art to be bundled and only sold that way, and EMI agreed to it, good for them. But at the same time, (assuming they care, they may not) they could also be limiting themselves on the amount of money they could be making.

    As I said, I doubt they care, but it's interesting to me.

    Well, the result included an undisclosed settlement of royalties paid to Pink Floyd by EMI based on past sales. So it could be as serious as the difference album versus fractional purchase of everyone who bought only fractions of Pink Floyd albums.

    If it's in the contract, it's in the contract. I question why Pink Floyd bothered to divide them into tracks or to name them different names if they truly were 'seamless.' I understand that the Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, etc of songs like "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" but there are stand alone tracks on Floyd albums. I guess it was in the contract and EMI agreed to it. I think it's usually the artist getting bit by contractual agreements so I'm sure EMI is due.

    I must question how long Pink Floyd allowed this to go on before seeking reparations from EMI ... seems to me iTunes has been offering Floyd for a long time. Greed on Pink Floyd's part? Or just a genuine slow realization that people weren't getting the full effect of their art?

  • A win is a win. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by singingjim1 (1070652) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:49PM (#31442646)
    This doesn't prevent Pink Floyd from making a separate deal to sell individual songs. To me it's more about smacking down EMI for trying to bypass contract verbiage and I applaud that. It's nice to see that a judge thinks an artist's vision of their work actually counts for something.
  • by Another, completely (812244) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:50PM (#31442678)

    Albums like Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are made as single things. It was the glory days of the concept album. The best track is like the best square inch of a good painting, and they don't want to be judged on that. Good on 'em.

    What I want to know is whether this means that EMI reckons we can freely copy EMI songs from that period because their copyrights applied to the physical album only, so a digital copy from vinyl is OK for free distribution.

  • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:51PM (#31442696)

    Radio. It's much easier to get playtime for 4 minutes than 40.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:53PM (#31442744)
    There is no downside to this ruling. Admittedly, people who would like to download only parts of Pink Floyd albums will be disappointed, but from a stand point of what is good for society this is a good ruling. Of course, if copyright didn't extend longer than it should, this ruling would be irrelevant since Pink Floyd's music would be in the public domain by now (or within a couple of years anyway).
  • Song flow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SoTerrified (660807) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:54PM (#31442778)

    I never realized how intercoupled the songs on Pink Floyd albums were until I happened to listen to the songs on my mp3 device while set to 'random song'. It was jumping all over my music collection, and all the Pink Floyd songs were either jarring to come into or ended abruptly. I can see why they didn't want them split up. They really are parts of a whole with a few exceptions.

    But c'mon, what balls on EMI. Because they signed a contract that said EMI could only sell the records if they were intact, EMI tried to weasel out by saying they weren't selling records. But then I remember this is one of the labels behind the RIAA extortion scheme, so I shouldn't be surprised.

  • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:59PM (#31442864)

    I'd take that one step further, I wish mp3 players were designed with a easy "Continue on to next track" feature for random play. I love having my iPod on shuffle, except when playing things that segue like Dark Side of The Moon or Abbey Road or Frank Zappa's Apostrophe. When a tune like "Brain Damage" comes on, it would be nice to have an one-push feature that will continue to "Eclipse", as opposed to Floydus Interruptus.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:05PM (#31443012) Journal

    For Pink Floyd this is about artistic integrity, not profit.

    Then why would Pink Floyd ask for royalties as damages? How long did these bundled sales go on before Pink Floyd decided to sue?

    From the BBC article [bbc.co.uk]:

    EMI disagreed but a judge has sided with Pink Floyd. The ruling is part of a long-running battle between the two sides over £10m in unpaid royalties.

    I also am a huge fan of Pink Floyd but I believe your altruistic views of Floyd are a bit misplaced. I dare say this may be a deeper battle with greed also playing a part and 'art' being used as a facade. If they were concerned about their art, from day one they would have denied radio stations the ability to play their work on the radio without the entirety of an album being played. You and I both know this is not the case.

  • Makes no sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:21PM (#31443356)

    Pink Floyd songs are "unbundled" when they are played on the radio as singles.

  • by boristdog (133725) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:22PM (#31443362)

    Ever since the advent of the long-playing record as the popular music medium, many artists have been making music that flows for 20 to 45 minutes, not just music that lasts for 3 or 4 minutes. Sure, singles still got made, but most real artists thought in terms of albums, not songs. The CD reinforced that model, allowing artists to flow their music for even longer. Even on albums that appear to be mostly singles, a lot of thought went into how they were arranged on the record.

    The advent of itunes killed this. And it's a shame. Young music marketers don't even think beyond 5 minutes of music. Would Thick as a Brick, Tommy, Sgt. Pepper, The Who Sell Out, Brain Salad Surgery, 2112, Ziggy Stardust or any of the Pink Floyd or any number of classic albums even be able to be made in this new "single" only model?

    Floyd has their money, they want to keep their integrity.

  • by Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:28PM (#31443512)
    Plenty of musicians have made their fortunes and still have no artistic integrity. Credit where credit is due, and for a while now that's meant acknowledging when a musician has any artistic integrity at all.
  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:26PM (#31444620)

    But most symphonies are sold with individual tracks (and thus able to be bought individually).

    And most people, even classical music listening people, only really recognize certain movements of symphonies or any multi-movement work, unless it's REALLY well-known.

    Some composers actually started doing traditionally multi-movement works as one large piece with no breaks inbetween. Example: Liszt's piano sonata in b minor. Reason? He didn't wan the work split up. Same reason PF gives for their album. But Liszt accomplished it without having to rely on licensing and distribution restrictions; he just made it one continuous piece.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:45PM (#31444956)

    It just means more Pink Floyd songs will be downloaded on file sharing services

    And EMI won't see a fucking nickel from that, either.

    Win-win-win.

  • by boristdog (133725) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @05:16PM (#31445392)

    Exactly. EMI was basically saying all contracts and copyrights made in the vinyl and CD days no longer applied. Which would mean any song recorded without specifically mentioning digital rights in the contract are now free to anyone as digital media.

    Kinda too bad they lost this one, then...

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