Roc Nation, Tidal Fight Back Against Prince Estate Over Recordings

A legal battle surrounding the rights to stream Prince‘s catalogue is heating up. Two companies associated with Jay Z, Tidal and Roc Nation, have filed papers alleging that the administrator of Prince’s estate did not have the authority to shop the artist’s songs to competing streaming services, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Prince’s estate, run by Bremer Trust since his death last April, is reportedly hoping to get Prince’s songs to Apple, Spotify and other streaming services prior to the Grammys next month, in anticipation of a tribute to the artist. The administrator reportedly asked Universal Music Group to begin negotiating these rights last November.

Bremer Trust had sued Roc Nation last year, claiming that the companies had violated an agreement to stream Prince’s final album, Hit n Run, exclusively for only 90 days. They claimed the services subsequently hosted 15 of the artist’s LPs. 

Jay Z’s companies claimed to have written and oral agreements with the artist, but allegedly did not turn them over to the estate or Prince’s NPG Records label. NPG said in November that it had terminated any such agreements the artist may have had before his death; the company’s lawyer sought an injunction at the time as well as monetary damages.

These agreements are the subject of the new filings, which have moved from probate court to Minnesota’s federal court. They claim that NPG Records does not own the copyrights to Prince’s songs and that it is committing copyright misuse in its claims. The lawyer representing Aspiro, Tidal’s parent company, also claims that Bremer lacks the credentials to sue them because Bremer are not the “real parties in interest” with regard to the claims in their lawsuit.

Despite the new filings, neither Aspiro nor Roc Nation have filed a countersuit against Bremer. Roc Nation previously suggested that deals with other streaming services could be in violations of their rights to exclusivity. Tidal echoed that sentiment in their new filing, saying the company would “reply on those promises” from its previous dealings with Prince.