In advance of a pretrial conference, the administrators of Prince's estate and the parent company of the Tidal streaming service have outlined the copyright dispute for the judge with new court papers signaling how the late artist's equity ownership may play a factor.
On behalf of Prince Roger Nelson's NPG Records, the lawsuit was filed last November claiming that Tidal was only given an exclusive 90-day license for a newly recorded studio album titled Hit n Run, and that Tidal had committed copyright infringement by putting 15 Prince albums up on the streaming service. The defendants, including Jay Z-affiliated companies, then submitted an answer insisting upon proper licensing and a challenge to the administrator's authority.
Since then, there's been action in the probate court whereby Comerica Bank has been appointed a personal representative. Also to much fanfare, deals were made to allow many of Prince's recordings to appear on streaming services that include Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Prime, iHeartRadio and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the copyright suit against Tidal remains in the background, and now Aspiro AB, the Swedish co-owner of Tidal, is primed to add more to its defense than just the Hit n Run licensing agreement. Aspiro raises up an Equity Term Sheet dated July 19, 2015 wherein Nelson "became an artist equity-owner of TIDAL and received additional consideration."
The deal, says Aspiro, obligated Prince to grant to Tidal the streaming rights to his catalog of recordings. It figures to be controversial.
"Plaintiffs’ conclusory allegations regarding the propriety of the Equity Term Sheet are unsupported and contradicted by other documentary evidence that Aspiro has produced to Plaintiffs, including a binding Power of Attorney pursuant to which the Equity Term Sheet was signed on Mr. Nelson’s behalf," states Aspiro in court papers.