A day after it was distributed free inside a British newspaper, music icon Prince's latest album is widely accessible after countless fans posted it online.
An estimated three million copies of Planet Earth were packaged as a promotional "covermount," or giveaway, with the Mail on Sunday newspaper — a move that raised an uproar among U.K. record retailers and even caused Prince's British distributor to nix its own sales launch of the album.
As of Monday morning, the 10-track album could easily be downloaded from numerous file-sharing websites. The physical CD is also being offered for sale on auction website eBay.
The album is scheduled to begin selling in international markets on Monday, but the North American release is not until July 24.
Recently, when asked why he chose to give his latest CD away for free, the 49-year-old was unrepentant and called the move "direct marketing."
"I don't have to be in the speculation business of the record industry, which is going through a lot of tumultuous times right now," said the Minneapolis-born artist.
The eclectic, prolific artist has long fought against the traditional recording industry structure.
He once officially changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol to protest a record contract and has also appeared in public with the word "slave" scrawled across his cheek as his comment on another recording industry battle.
More recently, he drew criticism from the industry for giving a copy of his 2004 album Musicology to each fan who attended one of his concerts.
For years, Prince, whose real name is Prince Rogers Nelson, has also explored distributing his music via his own website.
"Prince's only aim is to get music to those who want to hear it," according to a spokesman on the artist's official website.
The award-winning singer, songwriter and musician "feels that charts are just music industry constructions and have little or no relevance to fans or even artists today."
Prince's ample catalogue of diverse hits includes 1999, Kiss, Let's Go Crazy, Diamonds and Pearls, When Doves Cry and The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.
In August, he will give 21 concerts in London, at each of which he is also scheduled to hand out free copies of his latest album.