Four Tet wins historic royalty legal battle against Domino Records

Articles, News // June 2022

Kieran Hebden, AKA Four Tet, has taken a historical stand for artists. He has hit back at the music industry giants, exposing their outdated pre-streaming copyright deals and winning back thousands in royalties.

The good news follows an exclusive global publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), which he signed earlier this year.

After the lengthy case, Hebden took to instagram to announce the positive result to his followers.

Hebden acted as the claimant and Domino Records as the defendant over outdated royalty rates for streaming/downloads. He first signed his contract with Domino back in 2001, well before the age of streaming.

Hebden and his lawyers took to court seeking an 18% to 50% royalty rate increase and £70,000 in damages (plus costs). Additionally, Hebden stated streams/downloads should act as a license instead of acting as a CD/vinyl sale.

The label furthered tensions when they removed three of Four Tet’s albums from streaming services back in November. The albums, Pause, Rounds and Everything Ecstatic, did not return until February this year. Lawyers backing Hebden stated it was a “breach of contract” and added the fact to an amended legal complaint.

Domino Records argued that Hebden was only entitled to the 18% rate he originally signed for, streaming was not commonplace in 2001 and as a result, it could not have been accounted for.

Thankfully, the court ruled in Four Tet’s favour and so Domino Records recognised his claim. The offer accepted by Hebden awards him a 50% streaming/download royalty rate and payment of £56,921.08 plus interest and costs.

Despite the win, Domino still owns parts of his catalogue for ‘life of copyright’ and refuse to transfer ownership.

Many in the music industry have watched this case very closely and the historic win could now mean a great upheaval of unfair, pre-streaming contracts.