The sanctity of the album as a unified body of work might seem like a quaint concept these days, but yesterday Pink Floyd won the right to preserve it as part of a legal battle with its label, EMI.
England's Court of Appeal ruled that the group's songs cannot be sold individually without their permission, after Floyd's lawyers argued that the group's 1999 contract with EMI requires the label to sell its catalog only as complete albums, even in digital form.
At the moment, that right is either not in effect or is being exercised selectively: The majority of the group's songs are currently available individually on iTunes, although a number of them are not. The album-only songs are primarily longer tracks from early in the group's career, but two popular songs from the multi-platinum Dark Side of the Moon, "Time" and "Us and Them," are available only with the album, as are all three songs on 1977's Animals and much of 1975's Wish You Were Here.
The ruling is the latest stage in an ongoing dispute involving more than $15 million in allegedly unpaid royalties between the group and the troubled label. The ruling was made amid reports that Guy Hands' Terra Firma Group, which owns EMI, may give up control of EMI to Citigroup before the end of this year. In November a New York jury rejected a fraud case against Citigroup brought by Hands, in which he claimed the company misled him into overbidding when he purchased EMI in 2007.