Ordinary fans believed to be among 22 defendants accused by musician of distributing recordings of his live performances
Prince is suing 22 internet users believed to be among his fans, accusing them of sharing bootlegs of his concerts. The musician is demanding $1m (£605,000) each from the owners of websites and Facebook pages that he claims enabled the free distribution of recordings of his concerts.
The 21-page lawsuit was filed last week at San Francisco's US district court, reported Consequence of Sound. The mostly anonymous defendants are accused of engaging in "massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince's material", with each web page contributing to "up to thousands of separate acts of infringement and bootlegging".
The targets aren't bootleg factories in Asia or eastern Europe, but websites with links to download decades-old live recordings. While some have general-interest titles like World of Bootleg and NPR Universe, other sites – like Purple House, Purple Kiss and Funky Experience Four – are aimed at Prince's most obsessive fans.
Together, Prince's lawyers allege, these websites "constitute an interconnected network of bootleg distribution which is able to broadly disseminate unauthorised copies of Prince's musical compositions and live performances". The plaintiffs cited shared bootlegs such as Prince's 24 March 2011 performance in Charlotte, North Carolina, his 24 April 2002 show in Oakland, California, and a 10 April 1983 concert in Chicago.
At the long-running web forum Prince.org, many fans expressed their disappointment. "Yes bootlegging is wrong, but … who is next? Dude will even go after regular ass fans … really sad," wrote a user called nursev. "Prince will be remembered for making some of the most beautiful music ever created and for hating his fans."
Last week, Prince announced plans for a short London tour beginning with a press conference in the London living room of Lianne La Havas. Prince and his all-female group 3RDEYEGIRL will release an album called PLECTRUMELECTRUM later this year.
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