Four Tet has been granted permission to pursue a case of breach of contract against Domino Records.
The London producer – real name Kieran Hebden – signed to Domino in 2001, and released some pivotal material through the imprint.
Starting with 2001 album 'Pause' he then released celebrated 2003 full length 'Rounds', 2005's 'Everything Ecstatic', and 2010's 'There Is Love In You' on the label.
Earlier this year Four Tet began to dispute the terms of his contract, arguing that correct provisions for the streaming landscape had not been made when it was signed.
Communication between the two parties broke down, with Four Tet launching legal action; as a result, Domino took down the disputed projects from streaming services.
As a result, Four Tet's team amended the case to include a claim of breach of contract, or a possible restraint of trade claim, due to Domino restricting the availability of the producer's music.
In a legal hearing on December 17th Four Tet was granted permission to pursue his case; a full trial will take place in early 2022, and could re-drawn the map for the relationship between artist and label in the streaming landscape.
Deputy Judge Pat Treacy presided over the hearing at the UK’s Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, with the claim for breach of contract set to be pursued in 2022.
Four Tet’s lawyer Sam Carter of Hogarth Chambers told the court: “Digital exploitation is now the mainstream method of exploitation of sound recordings, and a refusal to digitally exploit effectively leaves those recordings sat gathering dust on the metaphorical shelf for the remaining life of copyright [70 years]”.
“That runs fundamentally contrary to the intentions of the parties when entering into a recording contract. The [streaming] takedown was, in my submission, a deliberate, cynical and outrageous act, effectively depriving my client’s fans and the world of access to these masters, at least by the now globally accepted mainstream mechanisms.”
“The timing of the act just before a trial to determine the proper rate for digital exploitation also makes the defendant’s cynical motivation clear. The takedown was a barely disguised attempt to avoid the court determining the proper rate for digital exploitation.”
Domino Records have not commented on the case.
All of this music that I made is not available to stream or download anymore because @dominorecordco have removed it against my wishes. They have taken it down to try and stop the legal dispute we are involved in over the royalties they pay me. pic.twitter.com/5hf4UDk11Q
— Four Tet (@FourTet) December 15, 2021