Jay Z and Tidal Hit with Class Action Lawsuit over Unpaid Royalties and Copyright Infringement

Jay Z and Tidal Hit with Class Action Lawsuit over Unpaid Royalties and Copyright Infringement
While streaming service Tidal made gains this year via releases from big-timers Rihanna and Kanye West, Jay Z and his partners are facing some legal heat via a class action lawsuit that claims artists are being underpaid royalties and that the service is infringing on copyrights.

A lawsuit filed in New York Federal Court over the weekend by Yesh Music and John Emanuele of the band the American Dollar [via Complex] lists Jay Z's S. Carter Enterprises, Black Panther Bidco, Ltd. and Aspiro AB as defendants in the case. The $5 million USD lawsuit claims that Tidal didn't obtain the proper notices to collect music for its vast catalogue, alleging that the library was built "by dumping all of the music from independent artists into" the system.

It's added that this allegedly copyright-infringing manoeuvre has ended up "deliberately miscalculating the per-stream royalty rates," with upwards of 35 percent in back royalties unpaid in the process. The suit lists 118 infringing incidents and is seeking between $30,000 and $150,000 for each occurrence.

Jay Z has not responded to the lawsuit in public, but had tweeted last year that "Tidal pays 75% royalty rate to ALL artists, writers, and producers."

Prior to the lawsuit against Tidal, Emanuele and bandmate Richard Cupolo, who co-own Yesh Music, had sued since-sunk streaming service Grooveshark.

Rumours have been circling that Samsung is interested in purchasing Tidal, but nothing official has been made public of these reported plans.

In related news, DJ Khaled revealed today (February 29) over Instagram that he's signed a management deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation. It should be noted that despite lining up with Hov, Khaled also recently signed an exclusive deal with Apple Music, with whom he now hosts the Beats 1 program, We the Best Radio.

UPDATE (2/29 4:30 p.m.): Through The Fader, representatives from Tidal have called the lawsuit "misinformed" and stated that royalties are being paid our as intended. In regards to the American Dollar's music, the band have now been taken off the Tidal service. It's added that Jay Z's S. Carter Enterprises "has nothing to do with Tidal."

The message reads:  

Tidal is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele's claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them. As Yesh Music, LLC admits in their claim, Tidal has the rights to the Master Recordings through its distributor Tunecore and have paid Tunecore in full for such exploitations. Their dispute appears to be over the mechanical licenses, which we are also up to date on payments via Harry Fox Agency our administrator of mechanical royalties.

The main compositions in question were release by The American Dollar and their entire catalogue streamed fewer than 13,000 times on Tidal  and its predecessor over the past year. We have now removed all music associated with Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the service. This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed. They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal. This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform.