UPDATE: TMZ reports Prince has dropped this lawsuit, and quote a statement from Prince's lawyer: "Because of the recent pressure, the bootleggers have now taken down the illegal downloads and are no longer engaging in piracy. We recognize the fans craving for as much material as possible, but we’d prefer they get it from us directly than from third parties who are scalpers rather than real fans of our work."
At a time when trying to fight bootleggers seems to be a noble battle but almost impossible to win for musicians, Prince is launching a $22 million dollar (US) lawsuit against 22 apparent fans for sharing bootleg recordings of his concerts.
The Guardian reports the suit will seek $1,000,000 from each of the defendants for "massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince's material" with various web sites and Facebook pages assisting in abetting "thousands of separate acts of infringement and bootlegging."
The copyright suit was filed last week in San Francisco's US district court and is aimed not at companies in Europe or Asia who create the bootlegs but at specific sites such as FunkyExperienceFour, Purple Kiss and PurpleHouse2 among others with one site reportedly having access or links to more than 360 shows alone.
These sites are for hardcore Prince fans. The Independent reports the suit -- filed Jan. 16 -- names two of the 22 defendants: Dan Chodera and Karina Jindrova. However, eight others are indicated by the name of their web site.
"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 unauthorized copies of the performance can be downloaded," the suit claims.
The plaintiff claims such sites work together to make such illegal recordings available to a larger audience. The suit also refers to three concert bootlegs dating as far back as a Chicago gig in April, 1983 up to a March, 2011 show in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Fans on the Prince.org message board were mixed in their reactions to the suit, with one fan "udo" stating Prince hasn't done enough on his own to curb the need for bootlegs because the artist doesn't think long term. "He doesn't," "udo" wrote. "Never had. And probably never will. He is currently in there for a relatively low cost way of making his dough. Look at the way he set up his shows abroad. Look at his record deals, release methods." Others such as "chookalana" argued Prince could end up looking like Metallica with this suit, alluding to Metallica's previous battle against Napster.
As for those sites referred to in the suit, "PurpleHouse2" "FunkyExperienceFour" and "DaBang319" had their sites removed or taken down. Meanwhile, some of the site or blog owners took to Twitter to voice their opinion, including DaBang319 who tweeted the following:
The singer isn't inexperienced regarding lawsuits against bootleggers and file sharing operations. In 2007, Prince filed a suit against The Pirate Bay in three countries (U.S., Sweden, France) but didn't win. That same year he also threatened to sue his biggest fansites -- the Guardian reported at the time that his lawyers demanded they "remove all photographs, images, lyrics, album covers and anything linked to the artist's likeness." He also sued a woman for posting a YouTube video of her baby dancing to "Let's Go Crazy."
The musician announced last week he'll mount a brief London tour with his new supporting band 3RDEYEGIRL with plans to issue a new studio album PLECTRUMELECTRUM later in 2014.