Prince’s estate had promised us lot of posthumous music going forward and we wait in eager anticipation of that. Meanwhile to preserve the value and integrity of his legacy the estate is suing a ‘bootleg label’ known as Eye Records. Describing itself as a “bootleg label dedicated” to the Purple One, the label is accused of hawking unofficial Prince music through a password-protected website newlovesigne.com.
Eye Records has released 18 Prince compilations since the artist passed in 2016, including CD sets titled ‘Blast From the Past’ A Discogs page for the label lists a catalogue of 85 unofficial releases, with release years ranging from 2007 to 2018. As Discogs now prevents the sale of unofficial releases through its online market place, other unofficial albums listed on Eye Records page encourage those browsing to contact other users to obtain bootlegs outside of the site. Users can get access to the music in this way and material includes live performances and unreleased studio tracks like “Prince Atlanta”, including live recordings of Prince’s last-ever show.
The claim alleges copyright infringement of Prince’s songs, likeness and iconic imagery and seeks a court injunction to ultimately stop the defendant’s illicit operations and to preserve all sources of Prince’s intellectual property.”
Prince’s estate is seeking $2 million USD for each alleged violation of their trade marks, although the actual amount is undisclosed.
A case of this type is a far from straightforward copyright infringement case. The estate may not have copyright in the music which has been illicitly recorded at a live show by the bootleggers. To achieve their commercial aims the estate will need to rely on a handful of available rights. One of the most powerful in this case being the right to control Prince’s image and likeness ……at least in the US. Working out damages a court will award is also a tricky business. What the estate really needs however is an order for shut down of the site and a financial award of any reasonably large sum which it can then use to bankrupt the bootleg site should it not pay up. We will be watching this one with interest.