Prince Sues His Fans

A Battle Over Copyright? or Control?

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

It would be difficult for anyone to argue against the statement that Prince’s career as an artist has been largely defined by controversy. In fact, he seems to thrive on it. Having made headlines many times before for rebelling against the entertainment biz bureaucracy- by changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, or giving away his Planet Earth album with the Sunday paper in Great Britain, for example-Prince’s latest outrage has created a surprising new group of enemies.

It would be difficult for anyone to argue against the statement that Prince’s career as an artist has been largely defined by controversy. In fact, he seems to thrive on it. Having made headlines many times before for rebelling against the entertainment biz bureaucracy- by changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, or giving away his Planet Earth album with the Sunday paper in Great Britain, for example-Prince’s latest outrage has created a surprising new group of enemies. Fan websites dedicated to the pop star have been served legal notice to remove all images, logos or lyrics associated with Prince. A letter from his attorneys asks the site managers for specific details on how they “propose to compensate our clients for damages” for the use of these materials.

The three major Prince fan websites have banded together with a forceful counterattack, saying that the actions of Prince’s attorneys are an infringement on First Amendment rights. Princefansunited.com, a new site born out of the artist/fan fiasco, keeps its readers updated on exchanges between the parties and invites people to leave messages about the issue- which range from vows of uncompromised loyalty from die-hard Prince worshippers, to somewhat apathetic laughs at the how ludicrous this whole thing seems.

Representatives for Prince say that the basis of the suit has been drastically misrepresented and that this is not an attack on free speech, but rather a matter of copyright law. However, their demands go as far as to ask that pictures of cars with Prince-inspired vanity plates be removed from fan-supported sites.

Adding fuel to the fire, Princefansunited.com boasts a Prince track not-so-subtly titled “PFUnk,” apparently recorded amidst the heat of the debate and given to the site courtesy of Prince himself. Things just keep getting more interesting… which is probably exactly what Prince wanted in the first place.

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