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Pop Star Inspires Law: Minnesota Considers PRINCE Act

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on May 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Minnesota produces corn mostly and one pop star particularly, a giant who was also tiny, the deceased artist known as Prince. Since the musician died on April 21 last month, there has been much discussion of the man and the myth, even in legislative circles.

This week, a Republican lawmaker from Prince's home state of Minnesota proposed a bill to guard against exploitation of a voice, name, signature, and image of a person for at least 50 years after their death, according to The Hollywood Reporter . The bill is called the PRINCE Act, and it stands for Personal Rights In Names Can Endure.

The Artist Known As Prince

Prince was no stranger to the courts and he guarded his intellectual property zealously (which is perhaps what made the announcement that he died without a will so shocking). But Minnesota has no law protecting the publicity rights of the estates of the deceased, and now that the state's brightest star has dimmed conservative and liberal lawmakers reportedly agree the time has come.

The law is written to apply retroactively, so Prince will be covered under the PRINCE Act if it passes. The bill is receiving bipartisan support, of course -- it probably seems like poor form to badmouth anything Prince-related within a five-state radius of Minnesota right now, so that's not so surprising (note, Sinead O'Connor is outside that radius, in Ireland).

The trust managing Prince's estate has expressed support for the proposed legislation, which is also not surprising, as the estate will benefit from any rights that attach to Prince. But the folks managing Michael Jackson's estate may have some advice for the Prince people, as they are in a battle with the tax authorities over the value of Jackson's image at the time of his death (with the estate claiming it was worth much less than the Internal Revenue Service is demanding in back taxes).

The Son Also Rises

Meanwhile, in other Prince news, a man has come forward claiming to be the pop star's son and sole heir. Carlin Q. Williams, a rapper serving time in a Colorado prison for transporting weapons, filed an affidavit with the Minnesota courts, saying Prince is his father, reports ABC News. Born in 1977, Williams is requesting genetic testing. He is the first such claimant to have filed in court but reportedly there are others making similar claims, which are being verified now.

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