Skip to content

Kanye West Lawsuit Calls His Publishing Deal “Servitude”

In January, Kanye West filed a pair of heavily redacted lawsuits: one against his publishing company EMI, and one against his recording companies, including Def Jam and Roc-a-Fella. Today, The Hollywood Reporter published an un-redacted version of the former civil complaint in which West’s attorneys argue that the rapper and producer’s publishing deal, which began in 2003 as West prepared to release his landmark debut The College Dropout, should have ended in 2010 and is no longer enforceable. “EMI has unjustly earned millions of dollars by tethering Mr. West’s songwriting efforts for an unlawful term,” reads the suit. “He is entitled to his freedom.”

West’s argument relies on a clause in California’s labor code that limits contracts for personal services to seven years at most. As Complex has pointed out, Courtney Love, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Rita Ora have all cited the law as grounds for terminating deals; all three acts ultimately settled their own lawsuits out of court. West, for his part, seeks ownership over any songs he wrote since 2010—a list that would include his albums from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy onward. The suit, which describes West’s publishing deal as “servitude,” points out that EMI has extended the contract five times since 2005 and that it restricts West from retiring.

As THR reports, EMI filed a response on Friday that states West’s claims constitute a dispute over copyright, not personal services, and therefore should be transferred to federal court, which has jurisdiction over intellectual property law. West has not publicly commented on the lawsuit. He released his latest album Kids See Ghosts, a joint project with Kid Cudi, last July. You can read West’s full complaint here.