A federal lawsuit has been filed by the record label of music legend Prince against Jay-Z and his company Roc Nation over use of the late musician’s music. According to court documents, Jay-Z and Roc Nation has been streaming all of Prince’s music since June 2016 in an epic display of copyright infringement. However, Jay-Z and his company claim that they had oral and written permission to use Prince’s music. It all centers around the late singer’s death and an agreement he signed with Jay-Z and Roc Nation.
NPG records maintain that an agreement was signed with Roc Nation to allow Tidal to stream the last album that Prince recorded before his death, which is titled Hit N Run: Phase 1. Roc Nation and Tidal, however, streamed all of Prince’s music, a move that NPG records has stated was not authorized. In 2015, Prince pulled all of his music from streaming services and struck a deal with Tidal. NPG Records maintains that deal only covered Prince’s last album but Tidal streamed an additional 15 lesser known albums without permission. The federal lawsuit filed by NPG Record and Music Publishing maintains that agreement for Prince’s music was only to last 90 days. The lawsuit further states that when Tidal added the additional 15 Prince albums , Roc Nation started “exploiting many copyrighted Prince works in addition to the works that comprise the Hit N Run: Phase 1 album.”
The lawsuit comes at a time when the Prince Estate has signed a deal with Universal Music earlier this month. The deal would allow Universal Music to become the worldwide publishing administrator for Prince’s music. This move would threaten Tidal’s assumed exclusive rights to Prince’s music as it would allow the musician’s catalog to be added to additional streaming services.
There was no specific amount asked for in damages by NPG Records but it could mean millions of dollars to Jay-Z and Roc Nation the court finds the company overstepped in it use of Prince’s music. Roc Nation has yet to submit any evidence of a deal which authorizes the company to stream any additional music from the Prince catalog.