Prince still filing lawsuits against fans

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Prince and the Revolution Album Cover courtesy Wikipedia

How can we forget songs like Purple Rain – you probably sang it in the shower this morning. But lately Prince has been kind of a jerk by filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against 22 individuals (fan websites) and requesting damages of one million dollars against each of them for posting links to his music on the Internet. Now before you scramble to get that illegally downloaded copy of Little Red Corvette (See note below) off your phone – hold on there – the pint size pop star inexplicably dropped the lawsuit without prejudice – meaning he could file it again if he wants to make his fan base even angrier.

One distraught fan had this to say:

“Yes, bootlegging is wrong, but … who is next? Dude will even go after regular ass fans … really sad. Prince will be remembered for making some of the most beautiful music ever created and for hating his fans.”

He may have decided to drop the suit after his lawyers realized that one does not infringe copyright by linking to songs or other materials on the Internet. A link does not create a copy of the material it just takes you to it – the link is like the road that takes you to the bank – you could drive to a bank and rob it – but it wasn’t the road’s fault you robbed the bank. To date no decision in the United States has found that linking would constitute an infringement of copyright – in fact just the opposite has been found. Only the Dutch Courts have found linking to constitute a copyright infringement. And this is what we think of that decision. Now some decisions have held that an individual may be liable for contributory infringement if they post links to material that is clearly a “bootleged” or pirated – which is probably the case here but this is still a gray area of the law.

The lesson to remember is linking in 99% of cases is fine – probably not a good idea to link to something like this shaky video of the musical Wicked.

Note: Yes, I had to link you to a cover version of Little Red Corvette because Prince has done such a good job of keeping his content off the Web – way to go Prince now you got everyone listening to one of your most famous songs performed by Sarah Bettens – a Belgian for crying out loud. Also, you will need something called a mechanical license if you intend to cover one of Prince’s songs yourself.

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Pandora lawsuit shows tension between copyright and antitrust law

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In this piece from Disruptive Competition Project the conflict between intellectual property law and copyright law is explored in the context of the recent win by streaming music company Pandora over music licensing agency ASCAP.  It will be interesting to see how the court rules especially with what appears to be a likelihood of the Areo case going to the Supreme Court.

Harlem Shake Musician claims to have earned no money from Internet Sensation

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Harlem Shake Paris

The music producer/musician who wrote Harlem Shake, a song that became an Internet sensation and participatory video phenomenon across U.S. colleges, including here at Texas State, claims to have made no money from the deal- at least directly. The Brooklyn based producer who goes by the name of Baauer failed to clear two of the samples used in the song but cleared up claims of copyright infringement as of April.  The most interesting aspect of this story is what it confirms – yes, its hard to make money in the music business but  – he can’t complain too much since he is booked full time now for gigs – so in away he did make some money from the song.  Check out the great infographic as well and read more here from The Atlantic.

Also, revisit an earlier post from the Roundup on how a musician from the 19th Century still did well despite everyone playing his song for “free”.

Robin Thicke sued over “Blurred Lines” for alleged copyright infringement

Singer Robin Thicke along with collaborator Pharrell and Bridgeport Music have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by the children of musician Marvin Gaye over alleged infringement of  Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” . Thicke claims he was just “inspired” by the song. Read more herecord1re from the New York Times.