Pink Floyd Wins Battle With Terra Firma-Backed EMI

The British rock band Pink Floyd won its court battle with EMI on Thursday, with a ruling that prevents the record company from selling single downloads on the Internet from the group’s concept albums.

But the effect of the ruling by a judge in London on the level of royalties the band receives remained unclear, however, as that part of the judgment was held in secret, the Press Association reported. A source close to the band said those talks were “ongoing.”

Lawyers said it was the first time a royalties dispute between artists and their record companies had been held in private, after EMI successfully applied for a news blackout for reasons of “commercial confidentiality.”

The ruling is the latest blow to EMI, the smallest of the four major record companies which is seeking new funds to avoid breaching its debt covenants. An EMI spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Terra Firma, which owns EMI after buying it out in 2007, is also embroiled in a legal dispute with Citigroup over advice and financing the U.S. bank provided for the purchase.

Several of EMI’s top acts, including Pink Floyd and Queen, are reportedly in talks with other labels, following the exodus of other banks, like the Rolling Stones and Radiohead, since Terra Firma took control.

Pink Floyd signed with EMI over 40 years ago and sales of its back catalogue is only outpaced by that of The Beatles.

The band, whose albums include “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall,” went to court to challenge EMI’s right to unbundle the band’s records and sell individual tracks online.

The judge in the case, Andrew Morritt, accepted arguments by the group that EMI was bound by a contract forbidding it from selling records other than as complete albums without written consent.

The judge said the purpose of a clause in the contract, drawn up more than a decade ago, was to “preserve the artistic integrity of the albums.”

Pink Floyd alleged that EMI had allowed online downloads from the albums and parts of tracks to be used as ringtones for mobile phones.

The judge ordered EMI to pay Pink Floyd’s costs in the case, estimated at £60,000, or $90,000, and refused the company permission to appeal.

Pink Floyd’s body of work is a coveted commodity. The band members Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason all appeared on the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List with personal fortunes estimated at £85 million, £78 million and £50 million respectively.