Prince has launched a $22 million lawsuit against bootleg sharers.

February 2014

Internet, artists, sound recordings 


Pop idol Prince caused some controversy at the end of January when he initiated a copyright action against twenty two fans who had shared bootleg videos and albums. The defendants in question had created fan websites dedicated to the musician through the use of platforms like Facebook and Blogger. Prince alleges that the defendants used these websites to post links to torrent sites where recordings of Princes’ concerts could be downloaded for free.  He is seeking $1 million in damages from each defendant, only two of which are identified by name (the others remaining as John Doe defendants). The lawsuit notes that the file-sharers in question have all used Google’s Blogger platform and/or Facebook to share bootlegs of his performances, one in particular providing links to 393 recordings on various different file-sharing services. It also notes that Prince has not been able to identify the real names of any of the file-sharers, hence they are being sued under their online usernames.

The suit notes that the defendants often speak to each other to exchange bootlegs directly; according to the claim, the sharing of these recordings has “caused and will continue to cause substantial, immediate and irreparable injury to Prince for which there is no adequate remedy at law”.

According to Prince, the defendants’ websites constitute “an interconnected network of bootleg distribution which is able to broadly disseminate unauthorized copies of Prince’s musical compositions and live performances” and accordingly their actions amounted to “massive infringement and bootlegging” of copyrighted material.

Fans have expressed their shock at Prince’s decision to sue his own fan-base. At the fan-based web forum, fans left messages such as: “Yes bootlegging is wrong, but … who is next? Dude will even go after regular ass fans … really sad,” and “Prince will be remembered for making some of the most beautiful music ever created and for hating his fans.” Many will no doubt be aware that Prince has track record of copyright litigation. This included an unsuccessful legal action brought against the Pirate Bay in 2007: he had also forced offline a number of six second clips of his SXSW performance from Vine last year

Prince is seeking at least $1 million in damages per defendant, as well as costs, legal fees and any profits (and interest on those profits) the defendants may have made from his recordings. He also wants the music impounded and returned to him. The lawsuit demands that the 22 defendants are tried by jury.

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