Minnesota judge cancels Universal deal with Prince estate

Court Voids $31 Million Universal Deal With Prince’s Estate

In February, Universal announced "a multi-year agreement with the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson and NPG Records Inc., effective immediately, that grants UMG exclusive licensing rights to the iconic artist's Grammy-winning NPG recordings, including a library of 25 albums and his highly anticipated trove of unreleased works".

Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide granted the estate's request in court late Thursday (13Jul17), adding that there is ambiguity surrounding the contracts that would be hard to interpret and could involve costly litigation for the estate if the deal isn't voided.

The ruling comes after Universal's discovery that Warner Bros owns the distribution rights to every Prince song from 1979-1995.

Prince died of an accidental opioid overdose in April 2016 at the age of 57.

Universal Music Group will get its $31 million back from the Prince estate, according to a court order issued Thursday.

It was believed that contract expired next year: WB actually holds the rights until 2021. The estate, he said, should proceed cautiously to preserve its assets.

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Universal then demanded that the deal be cancelled and accused Mr L. Londell McMillan, a long- time music executive who helped negotiate the deal as an expert adviser to the estate, of deceiving the company over the true rights, which because of a confidentiality clause Universal saw only after it had completed the deal.

Another source of conflict was that Warner Bros.

However, the judge's ruling left several matters still undetermined, including whether Koppelman and McMillan will have to return their 10% commissions on the deal, and UMG's accusations of fraud against McMillan for misrepresenting the terms.

In Eide's order and memorandum approving the motion, he cited almost 25 documents from the various parties involved - including Universal, the former and current banks administering the estate, McMillan and Koppelman and various Prince heirs - filed after he'd asked the parties to work together to find a way to salvage the deal. "We stand by our work".

After UMG filed a suit against the Prince estate to void the contract, a judge determined that much of the agreement should be nullified. For the estate, that may cause complications in its efforts to find a new buyer or may lower the value of the catalogue.

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