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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: copyright, music, prince
Companies: ebay, google, pirate bay, youtube


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 14 Sep 2007 @ 12:14am

    Re: YOU are missing the point

    That tech writers like you think it is somehow "backward" for artists to protect their own property shows that you are the one missing the point.

    Funny, but this has nothing to do with tech. It's from a business and economics perspective, and we've made it clear that it's for the sake of allowing Prince to make MORE money. So I think it may be you who's missing the point in saying that this is a tech writeup only.

    When an owner loses control over the distribution of his property it becomes worthless. The fact that Prince controlled the free distribution of his music does not suggest that the uncontrolled distribution of his property by others is acceptable.

    Again, I believe you're missing the point and would ask you to go back and read what I wrote again. Losing control of distribution doesn't in any way make things worthless. In fact, the opposite is quite often true. You just need to learn how to monetize the scarce components of your offering.

    When will tech writers realize that technological capabilities do not equate to moral or legal rights? Want does not equal right.


    When will people critiquing me stop thinking that I'm defending file sharing? I never said there was a moral or legal right to do unauthorized file sharing. Nothing of the sort. I said (go, read what I wrote) that Prince is BETTER OFF and can make more money if HE CHOOSES to ignore those who are doing these things. In fact, he can do EVEN BETTER if he were to encourage people to ignore his copyrights.

    I never said anything saying that people have a moral or legal right to file share. I was talking solely from Prince's perspective.

    I expect you'll apologize for accusing me of saying something I didn't?

    It is, and should be, illegal to freely distribute the property of others without their consent. Prince can rightly be criticized for suing the networks rather than the people posting the files, but he should not be criticized for trying to maintain control of his property.

    Yes, he absolutely should be criticized if it's a DUMB BUSINESS move -- which it is. Let's say Toys R Us decided to stay closed the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year. It's absolutely their right, but it's perfectly justified to criticize them, because they're making a dumb business decision. I'm saying he's making a dumb business decision and I've back it up with plenty of evidence.

    That the world is in a downward spiral of immorality where people like this writer feel it is perfectly fine for people to steal someone else's property does not mean we need to sit back and idly watch it happen.

    If there's any "downward spiral" here it's from folks like you being unable to comprehend the simple stance we've taken which has NOTHING to do with saying it's perfectly fine for anyone to steal anything. I have never said that and I don't believe it's fine for anyone to steal anything.

    What I'm saying and what I've backed up with evidence is that it often makes much more sense for the *producer* of the content, the *owner* of the copyright to ignore those rights, because it can make them a lot more money.

    In this case, it had appeared that Prince had figured this out, and was monetizing his music in a pattern consistent with the model I've explained. However, in doing this, he threatens to hurt the very model that had made him successful.

    It's a dumb business move. It's like closing Toys R Us the day after Thanksgiving.

    So, you can keep yelling at me for saying something I didn't say, but it's hardly compelling when you're simply setting up strawmen on things I didn't say while telling me that it's somehow *me* who missed the point.

    Try again.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.