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Pink Floyd Sue EMI Over Single Song Downloads

March 10, 2010 4:53 PM ET

The members of Pink Floyd have reunited, but unfortunately it's just to sue their label EMI. At the heart of the battle is Pink Floyd's 1999 contract that indicated the band's songs could not be isolated and sold outside the context of their original albums. However, on iTunes, EMI is offering all the Pink Floyd songs as a la carte purchases in addition to the full album bundles, prompting this latest lawsuit, the Guardian reports. EMI argues that the band's clause about separating the songs only applies to their physical releases, and as it predates digital music services like iTunes, the clause doesn't apply to the band's downloadable discography.

In the lawsuit's first hearing, which the band themselves didn't attend, their lawyer Robert Howe argued, "Pink Floyd [are] well-known for performing seamless pieces. Many of the songs blend into each other," adding that the 1999 contract "expressly prohibits" taking the songs out of context, which they allege EMI's allowance of a la carte song purchases allows. Pink Floyd holds the label's second most profitable back catalog behind only the Beatles.

This latest suit marks the second time in as many years that Pink Floyd and EMI have butted heads in a court of law: As Rolling Stone reported last April, the band sued EMI after accusing the label of significantly miscalculating their royalties. Pink Floyd initially signed with EMI in 1967 before moving to Columbia for their U.S. distribution for 1975's Wish You Were Here. The group's Columbia output was later reissued under EMI's Capitol Records arm.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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