Prince's Estate Reportedly Sues Roc Nation Over Tidal Streaming Rights


Tidal has been streaming much of Prince's digital catalog without permission, according to a new lawsuit filed by the "Purple Rain" icon's estate. The StarTribune is reporting that Prince's label (NPG Records) and publishing arm (NPG Music Publishing) filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday that alleges Tidal is committing copyright infringement by continuing to host the late artist's back catalog -- in violation of a deal.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Carver County, Minn., asserts that prior to the singer's death on April 21, NPG and Roc Nation entered an agreement to let Tidal stream (and sell) Prince's "next newly recorded" studio album, which turned out to be "HitNRun: Phase 1." According to the claim, Tidal misinterpreted that language and began "exploiting many copyrighted Prince works in addition" to the new album in early June.

As Billboard previously reported, Roc Nation and Tidal believe that an arrangement with NPG dated Aug. 1, 2015 gave it the right to "exclusively stream [Prince's] entire catalog of music, with limited exceptions," according to paperwork filed Nov. 11 in Minnesota district court. In those documents, Roc Nation says it asserted its rights to the catalog -- 15 previously unavailable albums -- in three claims filed across May and October of this year.

Earlier this month, the fate of Prince's catalog on streaming services appeared to be put to bed after it was announced Universal Music Publishing Group had won the job to become exclusive worldwide publishing administrator for the artist's entire catalog -- both released and unreleased. Tidal's claim to exclusive rights -- which Prince's estate is now disputing in court -- has apparently put that on hold for now.

This is a developing story.