Last week, the world lost another entertainment icon, Prince. His music crossed generations and genres alike, and after news of his untimely and sudden death broke, many donned purple and blasted his familiar hits. In Minnesota, Prince's home state, fans celebrated his life with dance parties. Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, was a singer and multiple-instrumentalist who was known for his flamboyant entertainment style and eclectic work.
While Prince initially helped to pioneer online distribution of music, his relationship with the internet became rather contentious. He was one of the first musicians to sell his music online, when his 1997 album Crystal Ball was released exclusively on the internet; he even won the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. However, he became one of the most vocal opponents of online music piracy, stating in 2010 that the "internet is completely over." He later clarified his statement in an interview with The Guardian:
“What I meant was that the internet was over for anyone who wants to get paid, and I was right about that,” he says. “Tell me a musician who’s got rich off digital sales. Apple’s doing pretty good though, right?”
Prince also pulled most of his music from streaming apps such as Spotify and Apple Music, and went as far as to sue 22 Facebook and Blogger users for copyright infringement and bootlegging, though he later dropped the lawsuit. Some speculated that Prince was disappointed with revenue received from his online music distribution experiments, and that theory was supported when Prince gave a rare interview in 2015, calling the music industry "modern-day slavery" where record labels and streaming services make the money, with the actual artist making little to nothing. Check out Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., in which it was ultimately ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use in good faith before issuing a takedown notice for posted internet content. The case began when Stephanie Lenz posted a home video of her children dancing to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." The case inspired this list of more than 75 scholarly articles:
A search across all HeinOnline collections for "music piracy"~10 AND "copyright infringement" produces more than 1,200 journal articles on this topic, including this 2016 piece from the Hastings Communication and Entertainment Law Journal:
A search for "music streaming" AND "copyright infringement" reveals this on-point article which discusses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The full text of this act is available in HeinOnline in the U.S. Statutes at Large Library. ScholarCheck statistics show that this act has been cited by 1,469 articles and 26 cases:
HeinOnline's Intellectual Property Law Collection contains millions of pages of legislative histories, treatises, documents, classics, and more relating to copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Searching this collection for "file sharing" AND Napster reveals compiled federal legislative histories pertaining directly to our research topic:
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