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Jay Z's Roc Nation sued for 'exploiting many copyrighted Prince works'

Prince in 1984, possibly wincing about all this future legal drama

Prince in 1984, possibly wincing about all this future legal drama David Brewster

Last fall, back when the world made sense, Prince was alive and making deals with Jay Z. 

"Jay Z and I did a deal in 90 days. He gets it. And there’s no matrix," the late superstar said of his decision to cozy up with Jay Z's music-streaming service, Tidal.

Then along came 2016, the great snuffer of good vibes.

On Tuesday, Prince's music companies -- NPG Records Inc. and NPG Music Publishing -- filed a federal lawsuit against Jay Z's Roc Nation company, which controls Tidal. The lawsuit "festered for months" in Carver County District Court, the Star Tribune reports, but escalated over allegations that Roc Nation exploited "many copyrighted Prince works in addition to the works that comprise the HitNRun: Phase 1 album," Prince's penultimate album from last September.   

On August 1, 2015, NPG inked a deal that granted Tidal exclusive rights to stream HitNRun: Phase 1 for 90 days, according to the complaint. This fall, Roc Nation claimed in Carver County District Court that it had "oral and written” agreements to stream Prince's entire discography. Roc Nation produced no proof those agreements, the lawsuit states.

Large portions of Prince's catalog have been streaming on Tidal for months, and as of Wednesday, that's still the case. Prince's estate is demanding that Roc Nation/Tidal stop streaming and selling all Prince material other than HitNRun: Phase 1, and that the company pay unspecified damages. 

In October, a report surfaced that Jay Z offered to "snap up all the unreleased Prince music" for $40 million. That same month, Warner Bros., Prince's longtime label, announced the first two posthumous Prince releases -- greatest-hits album Prince 4Ever (due out Nov. 22) and a deluxe reissue of Purple Rain (due out next year). Earlier this month, Prince's estate signed an exclusive publishing deal with Universal Music

Prince died of an accidental painkiller overdose in April. He left no known will.