It opened a British operation shortly afterwards. This was sold in 1922 to its own management, and then the independent Columbia Graphophone Company Ltd. itself purchased its almost bankrupt former parent in 1925. This was then merged with The Gramophone Co. Ltd., which had been set up in the UK in 1896. This company was incorporated as Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. (EMI) in 1931. US anti-trust laws forced the UK company to divest itself of its US operations that year.
The label was introduced in Japan in 1931 by the Nippon Phonograph Co. (also known as Nipponophone Co., Ltd.) which was a subsidiary of Electric and Musical Industries Ltd. In 1935 EMI sold its stake in Nipponophone, but Nipponophone kept ownership of the Columbia brand for Japan. After World War II, the label became part of Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd.
For the next few decades the Columbia imprint (trademark) was exclusively owned by Columbia Graphophone Co. Ltd., outside North America, Japan, and Spain, where the rights were owned by a company unrelated to Electric & Musical Industries Ltd., Discos Columbia, S.A. (it was eventually sold to BMG Spain through RCA). In the US and Canada, Columbia was owned by CBS Inc.
In 1965 Columbia Graphophone Co. Ltd. is merged into The Gramophone Co. Ltd., with the rights to the Columbia (trademark) subsequently being reassigned to that company. In Jan 1973 The Gramophone Co. Ltd. begins phasing out some of its domestic labels (Parlophone, Regal Zonophone etc.) including Columbia, in favour of the newly established "EMI" label, and subsequently no longer using the label for releasing pop or rock acts in much of the world (although it remained in use in parts of Asia and for non-pop releases).
On the 2nd Nov 1990 EMI Records Ltd. (successor of The Gramophone Co. Ltd.) officially reassigns (sells) its rights to the Columbia trademark to Sony Music Entertainment Inc. In Spain, Sony managed to acquire the rights from BMG around 1996/1997. However, since in Japan the trademark was not owned by an "EMI" affiliate, Sony was not able to acquire it for that market. This is why Sony can't use the Columbia brand in Japan, where the label was operated by Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd. until 2002. Since 2002 it has been owned by Columbia Music Entertainment, Inc.
WARNING: Codes with the following prefixes should not be entered as catalogue number: XSS, ZSS, AL, BL. These codes are matrix numbers unique for each side of a vinyl release and should be entered in the Barcode and Other Identifiers section. The actual catalogue number is usually printed above the matrix number.
European releases in the 1980's until the late 1990's often had supplementary numbers printed on the release in the following format:
xx-xxxxxx-xx (e.g.: 01-497424-10 in addition to short catalogue number 497424). These are not distribution codes or catalogue numbers but were added by the Dutch CBS, Haarlem/ Sony/CBS, Haarlem plants and are commonly known as Computer Numbers. Do not add them as catalogue numbers.
Label code: LC 00162.
Has the Spanish series Espectacular (3)
French Columbia shellack codes, sizes, labels colours, price codes (1951):
BF - 25 cm (10") - brown label (price code Medium)
BFX - 30 cm (12") - brown label (price code Medium)
DF - 25 cm (10") - black label (price code Standard)
DFX - 30 cm (12") - black label (price code Standard)
GF - 25 cm (10") - green label (price code Artistique)
GFX - 30 cm (12") - green label (price code Artistique)
LF - 25 cm (12") - blue label (price code Artistique)
LFX - 30 cm (12") - blue label (price code Artistique)
RFX - 30 cm (12") - red label (price code Medium)
9000 to 11672 - 30 cm (12") - black label (price code Standard)