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Prince Sues 22 Alleged Bootleggers for $1M Each

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on January 28, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you're a bootlegger, Prince doesn't want your extra time and your [guitar riff] kiss, he wants your money.

Don't let the falsetto fool you. Prince has a reputation for vociferously protecting his intellectual property. Take it from the ruffles and palate for pepper, the man has a flair for the over-the-top, especially when exacting legal revenge.

In his latest legal move, Prince is suing 22 Internet users for $22 million over bootlegged videos of his live performances.

Bootlegged Videos of Performances

"Prince Rogers Nelson" (proof that everyone has a boring legal name) filed a lawsuit in San Francisco alleging copyright infringement, reports Fast Company.

The suit is against two individuals -- Dan Chodera and Karina Jindrova -- and 20 other anonymous users behind Websites like "The Ultimate Bootleg Experience" and "PSP Music Blog" for linking to bootlegged videos of Prince's live performances.

Copyright protection isn't limited to the song recording. You can also face legal action when you willfully reproduce and distribute bootleg recordings of performances of copyrighted musical compositions.

In this case, the defendants allegedly published posts that listed all the songs performed at a certain Prince live show and then provided a link to a file-sharing service where unauthorized copies of the performance could be downloaded. The majority of the links were on Facebook fan pages and Google's Blogger platform.

But is seeking $22 million appropriate? Or is the staggering estimate yet another bedazzled instance of Prince's penchant for exaggerated drama?

$22 Million in Damages

The copyright damages in this case quickly added up because of the scale of the alleged infringement and Prince's various claims for relief.

Prince is suing all of the defendants for direct copyright infringement, unauthorized fixation and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos, and contributory copyright infringement (for linking to the material and encouraging infringement).

To get an idea of the infringement's scale, just one of the many takedown notices sent to Google regarding one user (DaBang319) contained 363 infringing links.

Considering willful infringement can lead to $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringed work, the $22 million figure becomes more feasible.

In addition to statutory damages, Prince is seeking other remedies, including injunctions to prevent future infringement, getting rid of the infringing material, attorney's fees, and profits the defendants made from the infringing material.

Regardless of how the case pans out, the lesson here is that copyright infringement damages can be steep.

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