Pop music star Prince, known for hits such as “1999” and “When Doves Cry,” has dropped a copyright infringement lawsuit against 22 bloggers and Facebook users only weeks after he filed it.
He had sought $1 million in damages from each defendant. He claimed the defendants had directed others to sites where they could find bootleg recordings of his performances.
Most of the defendants were identified only by online names such as “World of Bootleg.” Causes of action included both copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement.
According to the complaint, the defendants
…typically publish posts that list all the songs performed at a certain Prince live show and then provide a link to a file-sharing service where unauthorized copies of the performance can be downloaded.
Some of the sites were general-purpose bootleg sites, offering a wide range of intellectual property for illegal downloads. Some of the sites were fan pages.
The suit was dropped “without prejudice,” meaning that Prince could revive the claims at a later date.
Online piracy is continuing to grow, despite the availability of legal downloads and streaming from sources like iTunes, Pandora, and Netflix.
Bandwidth used for copyright infringement grew 160% from 2010 to 2012, according to a study from NetNames, a British brand protection firm, which says 24% of all Internet bandwidth is used for piracy.
According to the same report, 327 million unique users sought pirated content in January of 2013.
Serious law enforcement activity against pirate sites and their users is rare. However, in June of 2013 three brothers from Fremont, California were arrested on grand theft charges and face up to five years in prison for running a site that allowed users to watch pirated movies and television shows.
Most anti-piracy cases are civil copyright lawsuits brought by artists like Prince, entertainment and software companies, and trade groups like the Motion Picture Association of America.
An effective anti-piracy program can both deter infringers and potentially recover significant damages for a copyright owner.