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Kanye West fights class action status for lawsuit over Life Of Pablo “never, never” tweet

By | Published on Monday 8 October 2018

Kanye West

While Kanye West was busying doing all of those Kanye West-esque things that Kanye West does whenever there’s a new Kanye West album to promote, he also found time last week to submit some legal papers in relation to an ongoing lawsuit over the way he promoted a previous record.

This is the super fun litigation that stemmed from West’s Twitter pledge in 2016 that his album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ “will never, never, never be on Apple” and that “you can only get it on Tidal”. In the end Jay-Z’s streaming service only had an exclusive on the LP for six weeks, it subsequently popping up everywhere else. Although the record had evolved a little during Tidal’s exclusive period.

Even though Tidal’s exclusivity on ‘The Life Of Pablo’ was short lived, it provided quite a boost in sign-ups to its free trials. But one such new subscriber – Justin Baker-Rhett – was mightily pissed off when, despite West’s “never, never” remark, it turned out he didn’t in fact need to sign up to Tidal to hear the new record. He then sued claiming that the rapper and his streaming service partner had deliberately misled consumers with the “never, never” claim.

When filing the lawsuit back in 2016, Baker-Rhett’s lawyer told reporters that West and 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”.

The lawsuit, which has always seemed somewhat ambitious, got bounced from California to New York and was then trimmed down to size. However, earlier this year a judge ruled that Baker-Rhett’s core allegation – that he was misled into signing up for Tidal by West’s “never, never” tweet – could proceed to court.

The latest developments in this case relate to efforts by the Baker-Rhett side to have the litigation declared a class action, so that anyone who signed up to Tidal to access ‘The Life Of Pablo’ after West’s “never, never” tweet could benefit if the lawsuit is successful.

In a legal filing last week, the West side argued that this case is too complicated to be granted class action status, because the motivations of each potential class member would have to be individually assessed.

Which is to say, did each person who signed up to Tidal to access ‘Pablo’ actually do so because of West’s “never, never” remark. Did they even see the tweet? And even if they did, maybe they were aware via other coverage at the time that Tidal’s exclusive was temporary, meaning they signed up because they wanted to be among the first to hear the new music.

With all that in mind, this particular lawsuit should only relate to Baker-Rhett’s Tidal subscription, they reckon, so that the court can consider his specific motivations when signing up for the free trial after West’s tweet.

It remains to be see what the judge reckons.



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