Kanye West, his album The Life Of Pablo, and the concept of what constitutes an individual work of art, are currently the subjects of a proposed class action, with claims Tidal and West engaged in “deceptive conduct” by duping fans into signing up to the streaming service under the belief it was the only possible way to hear the album.
The album was released on Apple Music and Spotify within a month of the Tidal release, prompting the suit. The class action references a tweet by Kanye, who wrote: “My album will never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.”
Kanye and his team are taking an interesting legal defense, claiming that the version of the record that appeared on Tidal remains exclusive to it, while versions of Pablo on other services are a different work. The suit also quotes a Kanye tweet, which refers to the record as a “living breathing changing creative expression” pointing out he has “he has altered lyrics, changed vocals, added new beats, and remixed songs. In other words, the original version of The Life of Pablo, which debuted on Tidal in February 2016, was always exclusive to it.
“The versions of The Life of Pablo that are available on other streaming services are different from the original, Tidal-only version”, the response continues. “Plaintiff does not dispute that there are differences between the versions of the album available on the different streaming services, and therefore he has not shown that Mr. West’s tweet about the exclusivity of The Life of Pablo on Tidal was false.”
It’s an interesting legal distinction that could cause havoc with similar such “exclusive” deals. If Beyonce had bumped ‘Daddy Lessons’ from Lemonade, sped up ‘Formation’ by a few BPM and remixed ‘Freedom’, could she have legally released this version on Spotify?
According to Kanye and his team – yes.