Prince's estate is suing Jay Z's record label for copyright infringement

Jay Z. Photo: Shutterstock

Prince’s estate is not happy with Jay Z. NPG Records and NPG Music Publishing (both owned by Prince) are suing Jay Z’s company Roc Nation for copyright infringement, claiming the company has been streaming dozens of Prince’s songs on its streaming app Tidal illegally. According to the lawsuit, Roc Nation has the rights to only one of Prince’s albums, “Hit N Run: Phase One.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Minneapolis this past Tuesday, but the fight between Prince’s estate and Roc Nation has been going on for more than a year. In 2015, Prince pulled all his music from Tidal, sans the “Hit N Run” album. But this past June (on Prince’s birthday), Tidal began streaming multiple albums, along with images and artwork of Prince, that NPG says Roc Nation doesn’t have the rights to. Roc Nation disagrees.

Last week Roc Nation filed a petition asking the court to enforce an arrangement it says was agreed upon with Prince while he was still alive, giving Roc Nation publishing rights to a good portion of his catalog. The petition came shortly after Prince’s estate signed a deal with Universal Music to become the worldwide publisher of his music. Because Tidal had the exclusive rights to Prince’s music, there is fear that Universal will allow other streaming services rights to Prince’s music in order to make more money—which would then hurt Tidal financially.

While NPG acknowledges the deal Prince made with Roc Nation and Jay Z, it claims the arrangement was supposed to last for 90 days, not indefinitely. The copyright infringement lawsuit also alleges that Roc Nation has presented no documentation that would support their claims of an agreement with Prince.

Representatives for both Roc Nation and NPG Music Publishing have declined to comment on both the lawsuit and the petition.