Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, is taking label Domino Records to UK court over streaming royalties. Music Week reports that Hebden's claims for damages are over the Four Tet records released by Domino in the '00s. Other artists have disputed royalty rates, but Music Week reports this is the first to make it to High Court. This comes after out-of-court settlemen talks reached an impasse and Hebden is asking for £70,000 in damages, as well as legal costs and for the court to grant him a 50% royalty rate on the music in question on streaming services outside the UK.

The dispute comes down to, as is usually the case, some language within Hebden's contract with Domino which was signed in 2001: “In respect of the exploitation of the Masters and any videos embodying the Masters and received by us from our licensees outside the UK we shall credit your audio and audio-visual royalty accounts respectively with 50% of all royalties and fees arising from such exploitation.”

Domino claims that because streaming services didn't exist when the contract was signed, the rate does not apply: “Streaming was not, as at the date of the 2001 Agreement, a mainstream method for the lawful distribution of recorded music and was not as at that date within the contemplation of the parties" and that Hebden “was only entitled to 75% of 18% of the dealer price (i.e. a 13.5% royalty rate), although the label has paid the full 18% on a discretionary basis.”

Music Week notes this case could set a precedent for future streaming royalty disputes. Stay tuned.

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