In 2016, Kanye West was hit with a lawsuit over The Life of Pablo album release. The complaint stemmed from the rapper’s tweet in which claimed the project would be exclusively available on Tidal—a streaming service he co-owned with other artists like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Rihanna.
“My album [The Life of Pablo] will never never, never be on Apple,” he wrote. “And it will never be for sale.... You can only get it on Tidal.”
About six months after Tidal’s subscriptions surged from 1 million to 3 million, the “living, breathing, changing” album eventually appeared on Spotify, Google Play, and Apple Music. Yeezy fan Justin Baker-Rhett wasn’t too thrilled about this.
Shortly after The Life of Pablo landed on other streaming services, Baker-Rhett filed a lawsuit against Ye and Tidal’s parent company Aspiro for fraudulent inducement.
Kanye’s legal team pulled a “well actually” defense, claiming The Life of Pablo had undergone numerous updates and remixes; therefore, the initial version was technically a Tidal exclusive.
The court didn’t buy the defense team’s argument, and in June of this year, Rhett-Baker’s lawsuit was given the green light.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the biggest questions now is whether or not the lawsuit should receive a class certification. A class action lawsuit—one that is filed by a group of consumers with the same complaint—would likely result in a bigger judgment; however, according to legal documents obtained by THR, there are some questions that need to be answered before a class certification is granted:
Was the at-issue Tweet false at the time it was made? Did the post-release changes West made to The Life of Pablo render the widely released album different, such that the album’s eventual release rendered West’s statements immaterial? What was Mr. West’s intent when he told the world that The Life of Pablo would only ever be available on Tidal? Was it reasonable to rely on that representation? Can Aspiro be held liable for West’s statements?
U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Woods seems to be Team Kanye. Per his opinion obtained by THR:
Mr. West’s argument is tenuous, and certainly does not pass muster in the context of a motion to dismiss, when the Court is required to draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party," wrote the judge. "After all, Mr. West tweeted that 'My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale' (emphasis added). He did not commit that a particular version, or mix, or master of his album would not be on Apple—his commitment was that the 'album,' 'it,' would not be. And the album was made available on Apple Music shortly after the Tweet. Regardless of whether or not Mr. West’s argument will persuade a jury at a later stage in the case, the Court has little difficulty concluding that the complaint plausibly pleads that Mr. West’s statement that his album would never never never be available on Apple Music or for sale was false.
Keep it locked as more details about the case become available.