In a victory for the concept album, Britain's High Court on Thursday ordered record company EMI Group Ltd. to stop selling downloads of Pink Floyd tracks individually rather than as part of the band's original records.
The progressive-rock group sued the music label, saying its contract prohibited selling the tracks "unbundled" from their original album setting.
Pink Floyd lawyer Robert Howe said the band was known for producing "seamless" pieces of music on albums like "Dark Side of the Moon," "The Division Bell," and "The Wall," and wanted to retain artistic control.
EMI claimed the clause in the band's contract — negotiated a decade ago, before the advent of iTunes and other online retailers — applied only to physical albums, not Internet sales.
Judge Andrew Morritt backed the band, saying the contract protected "the artistic integrity of the albums."
He ruled that EMI is "not entitled to exploit recordings by online distribution or by any other means other than the complete original album without Pink Floyd's consent."
The judge ordered EMI to pay the band's legal costs and said he would rule later on how much the company must pay in damages.
The judge also ruled on a second issue, the level of royalties paid to the band. That section of the judgment was made in private after EMI argued the information was covered by commercial confidentiality.
A spokesman for EMI said the company was considering its response to the ruling.
The band's spokesman said Pink Floyd had no comment.
Pink Floyd signed with EMI in 1967 and became one of its most lucrative acts, with its back catalog outsold only by The Beatles.
Online sales make up an increasing portion of music companies' profits, and are a growing area of dispute.
The surviving members of The Beatles have yet to agree a deal to allow their music to be sold online.
Hard-rock band AC/DC also has withheld its music from iTunes, saying the group is not interested in selling individual tracks.
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