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Kanye West's lawsuit against us is 'baseless,' EMI Music says; Rapper wants out of royalties deal

By Charmaine Little | Mar 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - If a music publisher gets its way, a lawsuit filed against it by rapper Kanye West will be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

EMI April Music Inc. and EMI Blackwood Music Inc. filed a motion March 8 to transfer the case from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The defendants said West’s claims only concern a New York forum selection clause that requires the lawsuit to be heard in federal and state courts in New York County.

West teamed up with Please Gimme My Publishing Inc., West Brands LLC and Ye World Publishing Inc., which does business as Ye World Music, and sued the defendants after he and EMI had a disagreement over a co-publishing agreement, court filings said. 

In the agreement, EMI obtained a 50% share of the copyrights for a number of West’s music indefinitely. EMI would in turn pay West advances for royalties. West sued, requesting "a declaration that he should not be bound by his agreements with EMI and should be able to take back all copyrights and other rights in and to the musical compositions he delivered to EMI under the agreements," according to court papers.

The rapper also wanted to "disgorge" the company of profits it made from him. West is the one who initiated litigation, and EMI said West is trying to get out of his part of the deal.

“West’s lawsuit is a baseless attempt to walk away from unfulfilled contractual obligations and deprive EMI of rights for which EMI already has paid him tens of millions of dollars in advance payments alone,” the defendants said.

EMI also argued that West can’t prove a transfer to the New York court is unnecessary. “The New York Forum Selection Clause mandates that West’s purported claims be adjudicated only by the courts located in New York County, New York,” EMI said.

West did not mention the forum selection clause in his complaint. EMI also said that transferring the case to the New York court will uplift and encourage fairness and justice.

EMI said according to Section 1404(a) that a court can transfer a civil suit “to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented, where doing so would convenience the parties and witnesses and would be ‘in the interest of justice.’”

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