Hollywood Docket: Settlement for Jay Z's Roc Nation to Result in Prince Album Release

Plus, Disney beats a coyright lawsuit over "Inside Out," again.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The feud between Prince's estate and Jay Z's Roc Nation over the streaming of the late musician's albums on Tidal appears over. The two sides have reported they've come to a deal to resolve a legal dispute that includes a release of a new full-length album of unreleased material from Prince's vault.

Back in November 2016, the then-administrator of the estate authorized NPG Records to file a copyright lawsuit for putting 15 Prince albums on Tidal, a streaming service substantially owned by Jay Z's company. Roc Nation insisted it had a license while the plaintiff alleged that one of the agreements may have been fabricated.

In recent weeks, the parties have pushed back deadlines with talk of a settlement, and the deal also involved input at a probate court in Minnesota which continues to oversee a contentious battle over the superstar's legacy.

The new deal paves the way to a follow-up to Hit n Run, but not any of the catalogue that was subject to prior agreements with Warner Bros. Records.

“Our only goal is to share Prince’s music with his fans as he wanted,” said Jay Z in a statement.

In other entertainment law news:

—Disney's Inside Out doesn't have a sequel yet, but its character Joy is likely dominating the company's mood these days as it has again defeated a copyright lawsuit. Childhood development expert Denise Daniels in June sued Disney and Pixar claiming the blockbuster animated hit is based on a children's program she created to help kids manage their emotions. The Moodsters featured five anthropomorphized emotions, each with its own corresponding color, and Daniels claims she pitched the idea to Disney-Pixar every year from 2005 to 2009. U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in January granted Disney's motion to dismiss the complaint, but gave Daniels the opportunity to amend her complaint with regard to every claim except the one for breach of implied-in-fact contract. On Wednesday, Gutierrez granted a new motion to dismiss — this time without the opportunity to try again — on the basis that the characters in the plaintiffs works were not sufficiently delineated with widely identifiable traits to become protectable. Here's the decision.

—Nielsen and ComScore have reported to a New York federal court that they have resolved a dispute over the use of technology used to measure television viewership. Nielsen sued in September 2017 looking to enjoin ComScore from using its technology. The dispute was complicated by a stipulation with the government at the time of Nielsen's 2014 acquisition of Arbitron that led to an agreement allowing ComScore limited use of the technology. But Nielsen aalleged that ComScore had gone too far. Soon after the case was filed, the parties engaged in arbitration and eventually they told the federal court to close the case with no further details of the settlement.

— Kylin Pictures will pay Kevin Costner and his Treehouse Films $1 million, ending a breach of contract dispute over Shanghai Sojourners. The actor sued for $3.85 million in October 2016, claiming Kylin used his name to sell the movie at the Shanghai International Film Festival and then removed him from the project without paying him. The parties reached a settlement in September, which required the completion of undisclosed terms. The court on April 16 granted Costner's motion to enforce the settlement, awarding $985,000. On April 23, it awarded an additional $19,000 in prejudgment interest. 

— Universal Music Group general counsel Jeffrey Harleston received on Tuesday the 2018 Diversity Award from the Southern California chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. It was presented during the organization's 23rd annual gala dinner at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, which featured a keynote speech from former president Barack Obama. Said Harleston in a statement, "There continues to be a pressing need for more diversity in the music industry and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to make meaningful change.”


THR Power Lawyer Christopher S. Spicer has been named the head of Akin Gump's entertainment and media practice, effective May 7. Spicer, who succeeds veteran dealmaker John Burke in the role, represents banks, investors and production companies across television and film. “This is an exciting time to be in the entertainment space, with so many new avenues for content distribution along with new and innovative opportunities for financing deals," Spicer said a statement Monday. “I have been mentored in my career by John, who has led the practice since 1999, and am thrilled to move into the leadership role on a team that is so well situated to advise clients in this dynamic environment."