Prince threatens lawsuits over pirated audio, video files

Prince has threatened lawsuits against several major websites including YouTube and eBay as part of his latest campaign to 'reclaim his art on the internet.'

Prince is threatening court action against several websites, including YouTube and eBay, as part of his latest campaign to "reclaim his art on the internet."

The pop star will launch lawsuits inBritain and theUnited Statesto take down unauthorized audio and video clips as well as merchandise being offered online, anti-piracy firm Web Sheriff, which is representing him, said Thursday.

"Prince believes strongly that... copyrights should be protected across the board," a spokesperson for themusician said.

More than 1,000 clips have been taken down in the past few days, Web Sheriff said.

Footage from the musician's recent gigs at the O2 arena in London has cropped up all over the internet.Fans were officially barred fromshooting photos or video on their cellphones, butfootage exists nonetheless.

"Prince feels very strongly that people should remember his concerts as they were, not as some grainy mobile-phone footage," John Giacobbi of Web Sheriff told BBC News, adding that 99 per cent of Princematerialonline is illegal.

YouTube "has no way of knowing" whether the content in question was uploaded legitimately or not, a spokeswoman for the site said.

Giacobbi said Prince is also concerned about companies in China manufacturing fake Prince merchandise and selling items on sites such as eBay.

Artistic rights have always been a sticking point with the 49-year-old musician, whose hit singles includeLet's Go Crazy, 1999, Kiss and Purple Rain. He was famously embroiled in a battle with record label Warner Brothers in the 1990s over ownership of his master tapes.

As part of his protest, he changed his name to a symbol and wrote the word "slave" on his cheek during a public performance.

Since finishing his contract with Warner, he has only released albums online or through special one-off deals with other labels.

Planet Earth, his latest album, was given away free inBritain this summer withcopies of theMail on Sunday newspaper.