Prince Misses The Point: Sues YouTube, eBay, Pirate Bay For Copyright Infringement

from the and-it-looked-like-he-was-getting-somewhere dept

For many years it had seemed like Prince was one of the major music industry stars who actually understood the new business models made possible by the internet, and how those could be leveraged without wasting time on worrying about those who were making unauthorized copies. Unfortunately, for all his innovation in the space, it looks like he, too, has fallen victim to trying to sue those who are out there promoting his works. Prince had experimented widely with a variety of innovations in making, distributing and promoting music -- including his recent offer giving away his latest CD for free with newspapers. He'd also done a number of other promotions, all designed to push more people to his concerts and events where he could make even more money. That's why it's both surprising and disappointing to find out that Prince is now going to the other extreme and is suing YouTube, eBay and the Pirate Bay for making his works available.

There are quite a few things that are problematic about this lawsuit -- with the first one still being that he's suing the wrong parties. The sites he's suing are all the platforms which others are using for distribution. They're not involved in the content at all, and if he wants to sue, he should be suing those who are uploading his content. However, the much more important issue is how backwards this is and how it goes against nearly every other part of his strategy. Nearly every other part of Prince's strategy had seemed to be focused on the simple idea that the more his music got out there, the more ways there were for him to make money -- whether it be from more people wanting to see him in concert or getting others (sponsors, partners, even fans) to pay him upfront to create his next group of songs so that he doesn't need to worry about monetizing the music after it's been produced. These are strategies that make sense, and actually become even more valuable when his music is being heavily promoted online for free by his biggest fans. This kind of strategy backfires when you try to also maintain strict copyright control. For someone who had been so creative in figuring out new business models that don't require limiting fans via copyright, it's disappointing to see Prince go in the opposite direction -- potentially harming much of the good will he's built up.

In the meantime, it's looking like Trent Reznor may quickly be taking away the baton as a well-known musician who is experimenting with cool new models designed to get more music out there and then providing incentives to make money elsewhere. Reznor is now being quoted as telling fans that they should be downloading his music for free from his own site, rather than wasting money on buying counterfeit CDs.
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Filed Under: copyright, music, prince
Companies: ebay, google, pirate bay, youtube

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2007 @ 11:41pm

    Re: RIAA-styled arguments

    I see that there are one or two well-intentioned people who stick up for Prince's right to protect his intellectual property. I actually agree, in principle. I used to make similar arguments myself, as I'm a musician.
    There are more than one or two. Many here agree that he has that legal right and you should too. To imply that most of the posters here don't think that he has that legal right is deceitful.

    Many here also believe that he is exercising that legal right in a foolish business manner. But that's his right too. A lot business owners make the mistake of letting lawyers make their business model decisions for them. Of course, the lawyers usually make out pretty well.

    There seems to be one alternative, albeit impractical - just not digitally recording anything you do, and only perform live and try to charge for it. But even then, you could unwittingly be recorded by someone, even with their cellphone.
    That sounds like the short path to failure to me. Without the publicity of recorded material not many people are going to be interested your performances. Your argument is similar to the man who decides to go about in the dark without lighting a torch lest someone else light their torch off his. Also known as cutting your nose off to spite your face.

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