Prince Threatens Fan Sites; Apparently He Didn't Get The Web As Much As We Thought

from the well-that's-disappointing dept

Over the last few years, there had been all sorts of indications that pop star Prince had actually figured out the economics that drive music. He'd run many different experiments on new business models, many of which involved embracing the basic economics we've discussed around here. He focused on performances and came up with ways to fund his creativity through new means. He recognized that his older catalog was promotional for all sorts of other things, and focused on constantly creating new music. Even the NY Times this summer had a detailed explanation for how Prince was embracing the economics of music to go beyond what others were doing. And then it all came crashing down. Prince sued sites like YouTube, eBay and the Pirate Bay for copyright infringement, focusing on the service provider rather than those who were actually infringing on the copyrights. While we hoped it was just a simple misunderstanding, it appears not. Prince has taken this campaign well beyond that, and is now threatening a bunch of fan sites for copyright infringement because they have photos of him and his album covers on their site. This is the type of thing we had thought went out of style in the late 90s when bands realized that fan sites are clearly only about helping you get more fans. It's quite disappointing that someone who seemed so close to figuring it all out has gone 180 degrees and passed the mantle of understanding music economics on to folks like Trent Reznor and Radiohead.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    W.B. McNamara, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Prince: music industry visionary or control freak

    I just saw the same news, but came away with a different take on it. Basically, this doesn't surprise me: all of Prince's moves have seemed to me like efforts to ensure that Prince is in absolute, total control of his creative output. While he's certainly more unhappy about the degree of control that a Warner Brothers executive may have over his work, it doesn't seem a stretch that he's displeased with even the amount of control that Joe Fanboy might have.

    As I noted in my post, the day that Jonathan Coulton starts filing suit against his fans I think we've got a lapsed "new music business" poster child, but Prince doesn't qualify for me.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    bam

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    Music economics

    music economics More like music economics for the washed up musicians.

     

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  4.  
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    4-80-sicks, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 1:15pm

    More like music economics for the washed up musicians.
    I don't think $1000+ per seat or 20 straight sold out shows is "washed up"

     

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  5.  
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    freakengine, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 1:32pm

    Who says Prince is or was in control of the actions of his company anyway? Maybe he is and maybe he isn't. When an artist reaches the levels of a Prince, "he" basically becomes a company and gets all the problems associated with that status, such as overzealous copyright attorneys. Ever hear the story about George Lucas and Mad Magazine? Apparently Lucas called the publisher to tell them how much he enjoyed the Star Wars parodies on the same day his own lawyers sent Mad a cease and desist letter claiming Lucasfilm was due damages.

     

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  6.  
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    Name, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 1:45pm

    Let's go eat some pancakes

     

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  7.  
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    Kevin, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Prince doesn't get it, he's just weird...

    ...it just happened that his flavor of weird coincided with the "new economics of the music industry theory" for a few weeks. Seriously, read up on him. Listen to what Kevin Smith had to say about Prince and working with him. The guy is waaaaay out in left field.

     

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  8.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Prince doesn't get it, he's just weird...

    I agree. From what I have read about Prince he is a complete control freak and just does not seem to know what is going in the world around him. From Prince, to Artist Formally Known as Prince, and the back to Prince you must know he is insane.

    And what was up with him whispering to Beyonce during those awards a few years ago? He is insane, pure a simple, and not a good role model to look at for changing his business model.

     

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  9.  

    Do Fan Sites Make Money?

    I don't know about fan sites but if they are only promoting the celebrity and using pictures and other items I can't imagine a celebrity being upset over that.

    But if that site is making a hefty profit by using the celebrities copyrighted or trademarked items that might be a different issue.

     

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  10.  
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    John, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 4:59pm

    Prince

    Of coarse Prince has a love-hate relationship with the internet. He is a flake ...Prince does "the cocaine".

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 5:42pm

    Idiot

    Prince...is...an...idiot.

    He may be musically gifted and he may have had a lot of good fortune in his life, but he is still an idiot.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 5:49pm

    Re:

    Who says Prince is or was in control of the actions of his company anyway?
    Are you saying that he isn't? What's your source? If he isn't then I wouldn't call it "his company".

    Ever hear the story about George Lucas and Mad Magazine?
    That "story" sounds bogus to me. Where did you get it? I don't know of any lawyers that would take such an action on their client's behalf without consent and authorization.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Do Fan Sites Make Money?

    I don't know about fan sites but if they are only promoting the celebrity and using pictures and other items I can't imagine a celebrity being upset over that.

    It doesn't take much imagination. There have been many reports in the media of celebrities acting like that. Do a little research.

     

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  14.  
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    Eeqmcsq, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Re:

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Here's one place that mentions it.
    http://www.starwars.com/eu/lit/ref/f20071024/indexp2.html
    Notice how they don't aren't claiming that the lawyers were doing anything that Lucas didn't authorize. That story story makes it look like Lucas is really two faced, sending them a nice letter at the same time that he was turning his lawyers loose on them. What a bastard!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 11:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    damn, remove the superfluous "don't" and "story" from that comment.

     

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  17.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Another source on this is Mad Magazines Dick Debartolo. He told the story on one of the TWIT Daily Giz Wiz podcasts. I can't remember which one but basically Bill Gaines sent the lawyers letter back with eiher a copy of Lucas's letter or he just sent the lawyers letter on to Lucas and it was never heard from again.

    A lot of these places leave the lawyers on auto pilot and barely monitor them until they manage to embarass the client by doing one too many boneheaded things. Parody is protected speech and the lawyers should know that.

     

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  18.  
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    nipseyrussell, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 9:27am

    "But if that site is making a hefty profit by using the celebrities copyrighted or trademarked items that might be a different issue."

    where are those sites???

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A lot of these places leave the lawyers on auto pilot and barely monitor them until they manage to embarass the client by doing one too many boneheaded things.
    But still, the lawyers aren't doing anything the clients didn't tell them to do. If there are boneheads involved it isn't the lawyers but the clients for giving them such instructions in the first place. Of course when it produces some kind of embarrassment those same clients are quick to try to publicly blame it all on their lawyers who have to just shut up and take it. It's a game people who can easily afford lawyers like to play sometimes.

    Parody is protected speech and the lawyers should know that.
    Of course they should and they do. But sometimes clients with money to burn just insist on taking action anyway.

     

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  20.  
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    Quad Core, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re:

    "That "story" sounds bogus to me. Where did you get it? I don't know of any lawyers that would take such an action on their client's behalf without consent and authorization."

    A couple years back, Rush Limbaugh got a call from representatives of Chrissie Hynde (singer for The Pretenders), saying that he could no longer use her song as bumper music during his program. The representative said that Chrissie Hynde would not take any amount of money to change her mind, etc.

    Limbaugh stopped using the song until Chrissie Hynde called the New York affiliate and said on the air that she did NOT authorize that and that she and her parents were fans of the show. Soon after, the bumper was back.

     

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  21.  
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    Brian, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    No

    Probably not the best idea for Prince to do this. Seems like it would only be hurting him. Fans wanna support the artist. Also, for example, fans want to see things on YouTube. Who cares about some copyright by a company. Leave the videos up!

     

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