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Prince Has A Lawsuit On His Hands After Giving Away Someone Else’s Artistic Efforts

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If there’s one thing Prince
has made clear over the years, it’s this: don’t mess
with Prince’s intellectual property.
 Now, he’s
teaching us to do as he says, not as he
does. 

           
                 
                 
                 
      

Guest Post by Tim Cushing on
TechDirt.com

This holds true even if:

  1. it’s only links to bootleg concert recordings.
  2. it’s only a 6-second Vine captured at a Prince
    concert
  3. it’s Prince’s cover of someone else’s song he’s now claiming
    to “own”
  4. it’s only your toddler dancing to a Prince song for all
    of 29 recorded seconds
  5. it’s just a cover version of a Prince song,
    which as Prince so wisely noted, completely destroys the
    original and removes it from everyone’s
    consciousness/internet FOREVER
  6. it’s a puppet likeness of him
  7. it’s any photo of him or his album covers

Don’t mess with the Prince of IP unless you’re an intellectual
property lawyer or have several on retainer. This is what
Prince has taught us. Now, he’s teaching us to do as he
says, not as he does. 


Best-prince-songs-2
Prince handed out someone
else’s music for free,
which would normally be
considered copyright infringement. But the
lawsuit against him, brought by the manager of the artist whose
music was given away, doesn’t make that assertion.
Instead, it alleges intentional interference with a
pre-existing contract
 — namely the one signed by the
plaintiff (talent scout Jolene Cherry) and Prince’s partner in
free album giveaways, Judith Hill.

According to the complaint filed in L.A. Superior
Court on Friday, Hill signed an exclusive recording agreement
with a joint venture between Sony and The Cherry Party after
appearing on The Voice in 2013. Cherry, a talent scout who
takes credit for discovering Lady Gaga, says her relationship
with Sony was later restructured and that The Cherry Party
became a successor-in-interest to rights under the recording
agreement.

Hill signed a contract with Cherry, then asked if she could
make an album with Prince. Cherry rejected the request and
followed up with a warning to Hill that working with Prince
would violate their contract — a warning Hill ignored. Prince
and Hill collaborated on an album and proceeded to give it all
away. 

Included in this gratis album are songs
allegedly written by Hill’s co-writers and previously recorded
for The Cherry Group. The lawsuit claims Prince’s
actions have basically made Hill’s Cherry Group/Sony Records
debut album all but unreleasable
. Despite Hill’s
willing participation in both the recording and the free
giveaway, she is not named as a
co-defendant. 

In very closely related news, Hill is currently suing Cherry for
allegedly botching a contract with Sony Records, as well as for
harming the singer’s reputation by altering a
previously-recorded track to make it sound like a love song to
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. (That last half of the
previous sentence is most assuredly not made
up.) 

Underneath everything else, there’s the simple fact that
Prince’s IP-protectionism is apparently applied on a
case-by-case basis.
If it’s even tangentially related
to him, it’s off limits. If it’s someone else’s (Hill’s
co-writers, Cherry Party), it can be given away freely. If
nothing else, this situation will hopefully result in “purple
with hypocrisy” joining “green with envy” in the annals of
American idioms.

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