Prince Sues Fan Websites
It was just a week or so ago that Prince made the news when it was revealed that his representatives had demanded the removal of a family home video from youtube because it contained a short music clip of his in the background. The video was reported as being a 30-second clip of an 18 month old child dancing to a Prince song playing on the radio. The article I read mentioned that the parent at the receiving end of Prince's demand to remove the video from youtube was shocked by such a demand. It was at that time that it was revealed that Prince spends significant amounts of time trolling the Internet looking for people who have posted anything that may be his.
Copyright laws are specific about allowing fair use. It is one thing to have a 30-second video of a child dancing with the background music being in the background (and poor audio quality) and not in the foreground, and another to put the entire song on the web for people to download. To Prince, audio quality and fair use be damned, sue them all!
Now the Guardian in the UK is reporting the next wave of Prince's activities to squash his fan base and free speech. His attorneys are threatening to sue fan sites for publishing a variety of content and demanding compensation.
A coalition named Prince Fans United, representing Housequake.com, Princefans.com and Prince.org, has been formed by the website organisers to fight back. They said they would contest the action on the basis that it was an attempt "to stifle all critical commentary about Prince". They added that the "cease and desist" notices went as far as calling for the removal of pictures taken by fans of their Prince tattoos and their vehicles carrying Prince-inspired licence plates.
Okay, he may have a point when it comes to a fan site publishing transcriptions of his songs without permission. But Prince is also demanding the removal of pictures that his fans have taken of their "Prince" tattoos. Okay, maybe he has a point there, too. Just not the same point as publishing the transcriptions of his songs.
Overall, it sounds like Prince is over-reacting to the many fan-sites out there, and may well alienate a lot of his fans. For some of those fans, it will be easier to change their license plates on their cars than removing their "Prince" tattoos. And Prince may not even be able to give away his next album.