Prince sues 'bootlegging' Facebook fans for $22m in piracy lawsuit

Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo / Creative Commons
Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo / Creative Commons

Pop icon Prince is suing fans who posted his live performances on Facebook or blogs - to the tune of £605,000 (NZ$1,216,500) each.

The Purple Rain singer filed a copyright lawsuit on January 16 in the Northern District of California, targeting 22 individuals he believes have committed "massive infringement and bootlegging" of his copyright.

Prince, real name Prince Rogers Nelson, has named just two of the defendants by their real names - Dan Chodera and Karina Jindrova. The remaining 20 are referenced only as 'Doe', bar eight who are indicated by their website titles. Monikers such as PurpleKissTwo and FunkyExperienceFour suggest the content, some of which dates back to 1983, is aimed at Prince's most dedicated fans.

"Defendants rely on either Google's Blogger platform or Facebook, or both, to accomplish their unlawful activity," court papers read. "Rather than publishing lawful content to their blogs, they typically publish posts that list all the songs performed at a certain Prince live show and then provide a link to a file sharing service where unauthorised copies of the performance can be downloaded."

Prince's lawyers claim to have discovered more than 363 illicit links on one website alone, which he says will "continue to cause substantial, immediate and irreparable injury" that cannot be adequately remedied through the courts.

The music legend is an experienced piracy fighter, having sued or attempted to sue those who use his material without permission multiple times in the past.

In 2007, he filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against The Pirate Bay in the US, France and Sweden but this time, he has bypassed file-sharing websites to sue the fans who share links on social media instead.

Members of online fan community prince.org seem largely unsupportive of their idol's latest legal mission. "Is this a joke? What a black day in Prince history," one user wrote, while another said: "Crazy guy. Not like he needs the money either, he's loaded!"

A strong opposer of digital distribution, Prince famously stated his belief that "the internet is completely over" in 2010. He regularly forces video streaming websites such as YouTube and Vine to take down fan-uploaded footage of his concerts.

Just last week, Prince revealed plans for a brief run of shows in London next month, ahead of the release of his new album, Plectrum Electrum.

- Independent

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