Continuing an aggressive campaign to defend his copyrights, pop star Prince is preparing to file lawsuits within the next few days in three countries--including the United States--against The Pirate Bay, CNET News.com has learned.
One of the world's best-known BitTorrent indexing sites, The Pirate Bay has defiantly linked to pirated copies of films, TV shows, music videos, and other content while often boasting that it ignores Hollywood's requests to remove them. The Pirate Bay does not host any unauthorized content, but the service is internationally famous for being a highly effective file-sharing tool.
Prince will file similar suits against The Pirate Bay in the U.S., France, a country with laws favorable to copyright owners, and Sweden, where The Pirate Bay is based. In addition, Prince is preparing to take civil action against companies that advertise on The Pirate Bay, many of which are headquartered in Israel, according to John Giacobbi, Web Sheriff's president.
Prince has hired Giacobbi and Web Sheriff, a service that protects copyright materials from Internet piracy, to coordinate the legal challenges against The Pirate Bay and others who the singer believes has violated his copyright.
Giacobbi said Web Sheriff is also helping to launch an investigation into The Pirate Bay's off-shore connections to determine whether the company is compliant with Swedish and international income and corporation tax laws.
The Pirate Bay has already weathered several attempts by the governments of Sweden and the United States to shut down the site. Yet, this is likely the largest civil challenge the Web site has ever faced.
At the core of Prince's lawsuits are his claims that the three founders of The Pirate Bay are profiting from the work of artists without compensating them. The Pirate Bay earns $70,000 a month in advertising revenue, Giacobbi alleged. The site's founders have previously denied that the operation makes money.
None of the three founders of The Pirate Bay could be reached for comment.
Prince, who Giacobbi said has the backing of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, the group that represents the recording industry worldwide, is only adding to The Pirate Bay's legal troubles. The site founders also face criminal charges, according to a story published Thursday on the blog TorrentFreak.
A prosecutor in Sweden announced that he plans to press charges against five people involved with The Pirate Bay before January 31, 2008, the blog reported. The five are being accused of infringing on intellectual property.
The copyright battle that Prince has waged the past two months has not been without its costs. He was widely criticized this week when three unauthorized fan sites accused him of trying to violate their free speech rights when his handlers demanded that they remove several photos of him.
It was widely reported this week that Prince had begun suing fans. His representatives denied this.
"Prince is not suing his fans, is not looking to penalize fans and nor is he looking to inhibiting freedom of speech in any way," said AEG, Prince's promoter.
Prince began making headlines in September after lashing out against sites he believed were violating his intellectual-property rights.
In September, the singer said he planned to take legal action against The Pirate Bay, YouTube, and eBay. As of Friday, Prince's lawsuits appeared to be solely targeted at The Pirate Bay.
By suing The Pirate Bay in three different countries, Prince is hoping to put financial pressure on the service, Giacobbi said. Copyright laws in the United States and France would also make it nearly impossible for a site like The Pirate Bay to triumph, he claimed.
"There is no way that they will have any defense because it's blatant piracy," Giacobbi said. "They'll either have to come out and fight or just try and ignore it. In that case, we're going to win a default judgment against them. This could be a ticking time bomb for them. They can't outrun this. We are very confident."