Four Tet launches legal case against Domino

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  • The UK artist is demanding a "reasonable" digital royalty rate be added to his 2001 contract with the label.
  • Four Tet launches legal case against Domino image
  • Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) has launched legal action against Domino over royalty disputes. As reported by Music Week, Hebden is claiming against the Domino label based on royalty rates for streaming and downloads of his music. Four Tet's contract with Domino was signed in 2001, long before Spotify's launch in 2008. Under this contract Hebden released three LPs—Pause, Rounds, and Everything Ecstatic—as well as a series of singles, two EPs and a live album. Represented by Sam Carter of Hogarth Chambers, Hebden is seeking a legal judgement on his claim for a "reasonable" royalty rate of 50 percent, as well as damages of up to £70,000 plus costs. In a defence submitted by Blackstone Chambers' Tom Richards, Domino has rejected Hebden's claims, defending their decision to apply the 18 percent rate on the contract in question (which relates to sales of physical music) to streams and downloads too. The defence document states: "Streaming was not, as at the date of the 2001 agreement, a mainstream method for the lawful distribution of recorded music and was not at that date within the contemplation of the parties." In contrast, Hebden's claim states that royalty rates paid by comparable labels are typically at 50 percent. Domino has also referenced the fact that in 2020, Hebden was in contact with the label attempting to buy back his master recordings, but that the label had declined to accept the offer. Domino regards the new legal case as "part of a strategy on [Hebden's] part to exert pressure on [Domino] to sell him the Masters." The label's defence documentation concludes by denying that Four Tet "has any claim for damages or that the Defendant has under-accounted or is under-accounting to him." The news of Four Tet's case against Domino follows the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Commons Select Committee's ongoing enquiry into the economics of music streaming. Should Hebden's appeal be successful in the High Court of Justice, the case could set a new standard for DSP royalty disputes.