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Kanye West song ‘Power’ at centre of London High Court royalties dispute

A judge has outlined detail of the dispute between Declan Colgan Music Ltd and UMG Recordings, Inc in a ruling on a preliminary legal issue.

Brian Farmer
Thursday 05 January 2023 16:33 GMT
File photo dated 20/02/15 of Kanye West . A song by American rapper Kanye West is at the centre of a London High Court royalties dispute. PA/Jonathan Brady
File photo dated 20/02/15 of Kanye West . A song by American rapper Kanye West is at the centre of a London High Court royalties dispute. PA/Jonathan Brady (PA Wire)

One of American rapper Kanye West’s songs is at the centre of a London High Court royalties dispute.

A music company based in London has sued a record company linked to West.The dispute between Declan Colgan Music Ltd and UMG Recordings, Inc centres on West’s song “Power”, which was recorded about 13 years ago, a judge has said.

Detail of the dispute has been outlined in a written ruling on a preliminary legal issue.

The judge, Deputy Master William Henderson, said in the ruling, published on Thursday, that Declan was a licensee of “sound recording copyrights”  of a recording of the song  “21st Century Schizoid Man” by the group, King Crimson.

He said UMG, part of Universal Music Group, had signed West to a division of its business.

The judge said “Power” contained a “sample” of “21st Century Schizoid Man”.

He said Declan argued that UMG had  “not complied” with – or was “in breach of” – “royalty accounting obligations” under a licence agreement.

“(Declan) claims that (UMG) has not properly accounted to the (Declan) in respect of the royalties due for the exploitation of the Power recording via streaming services,” he explained.

“The central substantive issues are issues of construction of Mr West’s agreement.”

Deputy Master Henderson said he had made decisions relating to a issue about the need for expert evidence at any trial, after considering arguments at a preliminary hearing in November.

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