Prince drops $22M copyright suit against Facebook fans

After alleging that 22 people linked to bootleg recordings of his concerts, the pop artist dismisses the far-fetched lawsuit.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Warner Bros. Records

The pop artist Prince is known for getting sue-crazy when it comes to copyright infringement of his work, but when he filed a $22 million lawsuit against some of his die-hard fans, it seemed he might have gone too far. Apparently, the artist has now dropped the suit, according to TMZ.

Prince originally filed the lawsuit in the Northern District of California on January 16 against 22 fans. He alleged that they linked to bootleg recordings of his concerts on Facebook and Google's Blogger platform and that each of them owed him $1 million for posting copyrighted material without his permission.

However, under California law, it is difficult to prove that linking to bootleg material is considered copyright infringement, according to Techdirt. Additionally, the $1 million per person in fines does not fall within the typical realm of legal damages. Normally, people sue for statutory damages, which range from $750 to $150,000 per infringed work.

Despite the apparent difficulty in proving the case, Prince's lawyer told TMZ that the reason the suit was dropped was because the alleged infringers had stopped "engaging in piracy."

"Because of the recent pressure, the bootleggers have now taken down the illegal downloads and are no longer engaging in piracy," Prince's lawyer told TMZ. "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."

While Prince was one of the first music artists to sell music online and join the culture of free file-sharing, he also has a long history of suing alleged copyright infringers. In 2007, he aggressively went after file-sharing site The Pirate Bay for helping people find unauthorized copies of his music; he has also sent cease-and-desist letters to fan sites for posting photographs, images, lyrics, and anything else to do with his likeness. And last April, Prince demanded that Twitter remove eight Vine videos that featured his work.

Even though Prince has dropped the $22 million suit against his fans for now, he could reopen the charges in the future if he sees fit, according to TMZ.