Prince loves to file copyright infringement lawsuits and at the start of 2014 another has landed, ready to stir up a storm as the details become known and the case develops.
Filed in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, the lawsuit targets 22 individuals, only two of which are referenced by their real names. The others remain ‘Does’ although eight are indicated by their online nicknames.
Sadly, with names such as PurpleHouse2, PurpleKissTwo and NPRUNIVERSE it’s difficult to see these people as anything other than Prince fans. But it is Doe 8 – THEULTIMATEBOOTLEGEXPERIENCE – that gives the clearest indication of what this lawsuit is all about.
“The Defendants in this case engage in massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince’s material,” the lawsuit reads.
“For example, in just one of the many takedown notices sent to Google with respect to Doe 2 (aka DaBang319), Prince identified 363 separate infringing links to file sharing services, with each link often containing copies of bootlegged performances of multiple separate musical compositions.”
While it’s clear by now that Prince doesn’t share the same opinions as the Grateful Dead or Nine Inch Nails on bootlegs, for once a file-sharing site isn’t in the cross hairs. The lawsuit says that the defendants used Facebook and Google’s Blogger “to accomplish their unlawful activity”, either by running fanpages or blogs and linking to live concert recordings without permission.
The complaint lists several pieces of audio offered by the defendants, concluding Prince performances from 2011 in North Carolina, 2002 in Oakland and 1983 in Chicago. Apparently even the circulation of a 31-year-old live set damages Prince’s earning capability, with the singer leveling charges of direct copyright infringement, ‘unauthorized fixation and trafficking in sound recordings’, contributory copyright infringement and bootlegging.
“Prince has suffered and is continuing to suffer damages in an amount according to proof, but no less than $1 million per Defendant,” the lawsuit reads.
Prince has a long tradition of suing anyone who dares to use his material without permission, but doesn’t always carry through on his threats. A 2007 effort to sue The Pirate Bay went nowhere. This new lawsuit is likely to go much further.
Update Jan 28: Without giving any reason, Prince has now dropped the lawsuit. The dismissal was without prejudice so could be raised again in the future.