Prince,  Roots Rock

Prince continues to make friends, says “No Way, Norway!”

Our purple friend is at it again. This time, his sights are set on Norway’s C+C Records, who organized a tribute box set made up of 50 artists doing covers of Prince tunes. Tip # 1, C+C Records: next time, don’t contact Prince’s people to try to send him a free copy. Odds are he won’t say “Thanks.”….

In a rare defense of the purple one, how wise is it really to put together a box set of Prince tunes without making any legal arrangements at all? Even if you are giving it away for free?

Eliot at Wired’s Listening Post blog has the story:

Fifty artists who recorded Prince covers in honor of his purpleness’s 50th birthday on June 7 have been slapped with a lawsuit by the short-tempered star, whose lawyers demand that all copies of the tribute, which had reached number eight on Norway’s album charts and received several popular reviews by the Norwegian press, be destroyed.

It’s perfectly legal to record and sell cover songs of someone else’s material, so long as you pay the compulsory licensing fee of about ten cents per song. To sell their five-disc set of 81 Prince cover songs, they would have to remit around $8 per unit sold to Prince under a compulsory mechanical license.

However, Norway’s C+C Records distributed 5,000 of the box sets for free earlier this month, and claim that no one made any money from the giveaway. As a result, they didn’t think they owed Prince anything except maybe a free copy.

C+C Records owner and Prince fan Christer Falck contacted the purple one’s people to try to send one to Prince, and that’s when the trouble began [bold text by Ickmusic], according to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet (now offline, via Daily Swarm), one of many publications to post positive reviews of the collection.

For now, all 81 songs can be previewed for free on C+C Records‘ website, and some are also available on MySpace in streamable medley form.

When this giveaway first began, there were 5,000 copies of this compilation in circulation. Thanks to Prince’s lawsuit and the publicity it will generate, we expect that number to balloon significantly in the coming weeks.

5 Comments

  • Michael

    Yeah, I’m going to have to side with the lil’ guy on this one too. It’s one thing to do some fun covers and get it circulating and another to actually try to distribute them. Silly, Silly, Silly…

  • Gonzo

    I can go either way on this. My gut is that this is just another in a long string of instances of Prince being sue-happy/over protective. At the same time, yeah – the record co. thumbed their noses at industry protocol.

    I’m reminded of Prince’s outright refusal to allow Elvis Costello to cover Pop Life.

    I don’t know – I guess it’s just hard for me to be sympathetic towards Prince in these situations given how much of an ass he can be (see also: suing fans, youtube, battling Radiohead, etc. etc.).

  • Marco (bagan)

    Yeah guys; It was pretty naive by these enthusiastic Norwegians to believe that the purple one’s legal department would give this pure fan-styled project a final approval and happy ending, following that a no go had already been given to them in April of this year. It is a fact the 5-CD-Box had not been distributed for free, since it was sold on the web at NKR 300 plus postage (… I have not ordered one, since I could not imagine that Prince songs sung in Norwegian would meet my personal taste). If C+ C Records can now not pay royalities to the copyright holder due to low income vs. high expenses, they should better attend a business school first before rolling out such a project. Last but not least, the CD # 2 faced in many cases a manufacturing problem and had to be replaced for free. Sorry to say, normally I am on the side of the punished ones, but in this case I have a certain understanding that Mr Nelson did not agree … and is not pleased at all … Marco

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