Kanye West and music publisher EMI have agreed on something (at least in theory) – to settle their legal battle. According to a court document filed on September 23, the parties reached an “agreement in principle” to settle the case and expect to finalize the settlement agreement within ninety days.
In January, the Chicago-native rapper sued EMI to “obtain his freedom” from a contract that he alleged attempted to lock him into a business arrangement in violation of Section 2855 of California’s labor code, which sets limitations on certain personal services contracts to a maximum of seven years. West, who had been working for EMI for over 15 years, alleged that EMI had “unjustly earned millions of dollars by tethering [his] songwriting efforts for an unlawful term.” Even if the contract was fair, he argued, it would still be invalid because his services to EMI began in 2003, more than seven years ago. According to the rap mogul, his deal with EMI should have become unenforceable in October 2010 –i.e. seven years after EMI obtained West’s personal services as a songwriter in 2003. His lawsuit sought a judicial declaration that EMI could no longer enforce his contract against him. West’s complaint also included causes of action for restitution, unjust enrichment and constructive trust.
Two months after the rapper filed his lawsuit, EMI hit back, suing West in the Southern District of New York for breach of contract. EMI alleged that West’s publishing deals mandate that any controversy be adjudicated in New York under New York law. EMI called the hip-hop star’s suit a “flagrant attempt to forum shop his way around the exclusive New York forum selection and New York choice of law clauses to which he voluntarily agreed to be bound.”
Despite the contentious arguments from both sides, it appears the parties are coming to the table ready to seek a fair resolution. But nothing is guaranteed until a final settlement is entered – after all, as Kanye would say, “nothin’ ever promised tomorrow today.”
The cases are Please Gimme My Publishing, Inc. et al. vs. EMI April Music, Inc. et al., 19-cv-01527, in the Central District of California, and EMI April Music Inc., et al. v. Kanye West et al., 19-cv-02127, in the Southern District of New York.