It is apparent that Universal Music Group (UMG) is being sued by Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM) for failing to pay the respective royalties for Kanye West’s 2010 hit single “Power”. The song is a sample of King Crimson’s, a progressive rock band, song “21st Century Schizoid Man” and DCM is claiming that UMG has been underpaying its streaming royalties on Kanye’s song “Power”. DCM filed its lawsuit in the United Kingdom’s High Court of Justice in April of this year.
According to Variety, “West originally sampled the King Crimson track without a license before uploading the track to YouTube in 2010, where it has since garnered almost 134 million views” (Yossman, 2022). Once DCM was made aware of the copyright infringement, UMG, West, and West’s production company Rock the World signed an agreement which granted Kanye to sample the track for 5.33% royalty on each copy of “Power” that sold or was “otherwise exploited”.
In an article written by Complex, DCM now alleges that 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.” As a result, DCM is wanting to be paid royalties on CD sales instead of on the streaming as the payout is greater on CD sales, AND the want to change the licensing agreement to reflect the previously stated compensation deal, as well as be paid the difference and interest on what they have been paid and are still owed.
King Crimson’s case comes on the end of a ruling in a similar case that went before the UK High Court in a copyright win for singer Ed Sheeran as he too was battling a case around copyright infringement for his hit son “Shape of You”. It has also been noted that King Crimson has retained the same attorney that Sheeran did in his case…so it sounds as thought they are hoping to land on a win for themselves in their copyright case against Ye and his team as well.
One thing that we must always remember is that karma is a bi…well you know the rest. Whenever you try to find loopholes around an agreement, the universe has a funny way of slapping us in the face with a reality check. If there is an agreement in place, abide by the agreement and all that it entails so that you can avoid even more unnecessary time being spent going to court and wasting money on something that could have been easily resolved had everyone just led on the good foot. King Crimson could have taken this a whole different direction when they were initially notified that their song was being used in Ye’s song, but instead they chose to come to an agreement, and still they seem to have gotten the short end of the stick in this instance. You’ve got to do right by people in business and contracts.
We’ll have to stick around and see how this suit plays out in the end.