Prince cracks down on alleged Internet piracy

Artist, Paisley Park distribute cease-and-desist letters

Prince and his company Paisley Park Enterprises are cracking down on illegal uses of his music and other copyrighted materials on the Internet, and have sent out more than 30 cease-and-desist letters to people they believe are violating the musician’s trademark properties.

“The Internet should not serve as an inter-theft highway,” said L. Londell McMillan, attorney for Paisley Park and Prince. “Those who bootleg and use protected works of others without permission commit illegal acts that deprive the rightful owner from the benefit of his or her creation.”

McMillan said the cease-and-desist letters would be only the first wave in an ongoing policing process to track Websites and individuals who make unauthorized uses of Prince’s trademarked work. “We’re reviewing more and more sites,” he said.

Many fans voluntarily changed their Websites when contacted by Paisley Park representatives, McMillan said, apparently unaware that their Websites violated copyright regulations. While the suspected infringing Websites are run by individuals, he said his office was still investigating the possibility that a “bigger, illegal conspiracy” could be involved.

This is Prince’s first attempt to stem wrongful Internet traffic, said McMillan. “He’s been one of the most bootlegged artists in history,” said. “Such infringement has gone on for years, but at some point you say ‘Enough is enough,’ and you have to invest in creating a level legal playing field.”

McMillan added that Prince does not want to prevent his fans from using the Internet for appropriate and legal purposes, such as online chatting about the musician and his work. Prince and Paisley Park this year sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his latest album, “Crystal Ball,” through the Internet.