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Tidal lawsuit over Kanye’s “never, never, never” tweet proceeds

By | Published on Monday 25 June 2018


Great news everybody! One of the best pop lawsuits ever is marching on, despite it looking – at various points since it was filed in April 2016 – like it was all going to fizzle out before any courtroom dramas could occur. The lawsuit, in case you wondered, is the one being¬†pursued by a Kanye West fan¬†over the rapper’s Twitter commitment to “never, never, never” make his ‘Life Of Pablo’ album available to stream anywhere but Tidal. Jay-Z’s streaming service then had the exclusive on that record for just six weeks.

You may remember that the release of ‘Life Of Pablo’ was somewhat confusing, with most people relying on West’s Twitter feed for updates. Although it soon became clear Tidal had some kind of exclusive, getting the album not only before any other service, but before West had even finished it. As the hype around the record built, West then tweeted: “My album will never, never, never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal”.

It was bold speaking from one of Tidal’s celebrity shareholders. But also inaccurate. One of West’s new tracks subsequently popped up on the other streaming services. And then another. And then the rest of the album. But what about those fans of West who, by this point, had gone to the effort of signing up for a silly Tidal free trial, handing over all their personal data in the process, under the impression this was the only way they’d ever get to hear this record? Well, that’s what Justin Baker-Rhett wanted to know in his April 2016 lawsuit.

At the time, Baker-Rhett’s lawyer alleged that West and his mate Jay-Z had “duped consumers into signing up for Tidal subscriptions – which required handing over troves of valuable personal data including credit card information – under the false pretence that doing so was the only way they would be able to hear ‘The Life Of Pablo’. Consequently, Tidal unjustly benefitted in myriad ways from this collection of consumers’ personal data and the accompanying increase in its subscriber and streaming numbers”.

Which was all good fun for a time. But while we love silly litigation as much as the next silly litigator, would this silly lawsuit actually go the distance? Well, turns out, it’s come this far. And while the original legal action was bumped from California to New York and then trimmed down to size, last week a judge concluded that Baker-Rhett’s core complaint – that he was misled into signing up for Tidal by West’s “never, never, never” tweet – is sufficient to proceed to court.

According to Law 360, Judge Gregory H Woods said on Friday: “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. These allegations constitute strong circumstantial evidence of conscious misbehaviour”.

Whether West will seek to persuade a jury that “never, never, never” never, never, never means “never, never, never” via a tweet remains to be seen. Meanwhile legal reps for Baker-Rhett say they are now “looking forward” to “presenting our case” in court. Will a stupid tweet from a stupid tweeter ever really end up in a courtroom before a jury? Well, like they say, never, never, never say never, never, never.

And so, the case continues. Woo!