by: Melisa Yuriar
Jun 23, 2022
After seven months of legal back-and-forth over copyrights, Domino Records has finally settled on Kieran Hebdan, better known as electronic music producer Four Tet’s, breach of contract lawsuit. The intellectual property debacle ensued when the artist publicly announced on social media his dismay at the label’s unfair rates for licensing and streaming his music. Four Tet reiterated that he had signed with the label “[more than] 20 years ago, in a different time before streaming and downloads were something we thought about,” and this caused many to lambast the imprint online.
As a result, three of Four Tet’s albums Domino legally owns—the artist signed to the label in 2001—were taken off streaming services by the imprint, to even more outcry from fans and Four Tet’s peers. Finally, the artist unveiled the UK court’s final ruling on the matter of streaming which is that the artist, ”should be paid a 50% royalty on streaming and downloads, and that they should be treated as a license rather than the same as a CD or vinyl sale.”
Four Tet posted a copy of the settlement offer on social media highlighting a $69,800 payment that he’ll be awarded which represents the streaming and download compensation calculated at 50% rather than the previous 18% rate, retroactive to July of 2017.
“It has been a difficult and stressful experience to work my way through this court case and I’m so glad we got this positive result, but I feel hugely relieved that the process is over. Hopefully I’ve opened up a constructive dialogue and maybe prompted others to push for a fairer deal on historical contracts, written at a time when the music industry operated entirely differently,” said the producer in a tweet about the lawsuit battle.
The copy of the settlement offer documents also revealed that Domino will also be paying the artist a 5% interest on the lump sum aforementioned and 50% of all streaming income not accounted for by the settlement sum. To date, the label still owns a sizable chunk of Four Tet’s discography copyrights and isn’t budging on allowing the artist to take back ownership of the music rights.
“I hope these types of life of copyright deals become extinct – the music industry isn’t definitive and given its evolutionary nature it seems crazy to me to try and institutionalise music in that way,” said Four Tet in a Twitter statement, sharing his final thoughts on the case.
I have a bodacious update on my case with @Dominorecordco. They have recognised my original claim, that I should be paid a 50% royalty on streaming and downloads, and that they should be treated as a license rather than the same as a CD or vinyl sale.
— Four Tet (@FourTet) June 20, 2022
Featured image: Four Tet/Instagram