Kanye West’s King Crimson Sample On ‘Power’ Sparks A Lawsuit

Lawsuits over samples in music seem to be filed all the time. Usually, though, the reason for them tends to be related to the sampled work not being properly credited. However, that’s not the case with the latest lawsuit Kanye West faces, from Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM). The suit is regarding West’s sample of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” on his 2010 song “Power.”

Variety reports DCM (which owns the mechanical rights to the King Crimson song, is suing Universal Music Group (UMG) due to payment issues with West’s “Power.” The suit claims the label has been underpaying on streaming royalties. DCM is seeking all sums due along with interest.

After Ye sampled the song without a license, DCM and UMG came to an agreement, allowing West to sample the song in exchange for a 5.33-percent royalty on each copy of “Power” that was sold or “otherwise exploited.” Per the agreement, UMG had to pay a royalty on the same terms West receives royalties from the track.

The lawsuit claims UMG “has failed, and continues to fail, to comply with its royalty accounting obligations in respect of one mode of exploitation, namely the making available of the Power [r]ecording to consumers through so-called ‘streaming’ services.”

So, DCM argues UMG should be paying streaming royalties based on what the sums would be if those streams had instead been physical CD sales, per the royalty agreement. Instead, DCM alleges UMG has been paying a lower amount, being the percentage of what they actually receive per stream.