Label judged wrong for allowing iTunes sales

LONDON — The financiers at debt-laden EMI Group are facing yet another blow as a High Court judge in London ponders the level of fine the label should pay for breaking the terms of its contract with veteran act Pink Floyd.

On Thursday, Pink Floyd was awarded an interim payment of £40,000 ($60,000) after successfully suing the record label for allowing its music to be sold track by track on the Internet, contrary to an agreement signed in 1999.

That deal, brokered before online music became such an important revenue stream for the record business, stipulated that Pink Floyd’s albums should not be split up.

However, with consumers able to cherry pick tracks through online stores such as iTunes, the judge found that EMI had broken the terms of that deal by making Floyd’s music available to such outlets.

In addition to the interim payment and impending fine, the label has now been banned from selling single Pink Floyd tracks online without the band’s permission.

Pink Floyd’s argument in court also disputed the way EMI calculates royalties from digital sales of the albums including “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here.”

The judgment adds to the speculation that Pink Floyd is talking to other record labels about taking its music elsewhere — potentially ending an affiliation with EMI that dates back to 1967.

One stumbling block to a break with EMI is the complex nature of the relationship between the band’s members. Whereas most acts have a single artist manager, Pink Floyd’s surviving members Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason are individually represented, making any negotiations with the band a complicated task.

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