Prince Estate Wins Copyright Dispute Over YouTube Concert Videos

Written January 9, 2020

The US District Court for the District of Massachusetts on January 6, 2020, awarded a summary judgment victory to Prince’s estate on its claims that unauthorized concert recordings posted to YouTube infringed the late musician’s copyrights. Comerica Bank & Trust NA v. Habib , D. Mass., No. 1:17-cv-12418, 1/6/20.

After Prince’s untimely April 21, 2016 death, Comerica was appointed Personal Representative of Prince’s Estate. Currently, Comerica aims to maximize the impact of the official Prince YouTube channel. Kian Andrew Habib posted five “grainy,” “blurry,” and “poor quality” videos on YouTube that he took of Prince performing six songs at two concerts. Comerica sent Habib takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and Habib sent counter-notifications asserting he didn’t infringe.

The Court rejected Habib’s argument that the videos didn’t infringe because they didn’t show Prince performing “studio versions” of his songs, and found that the videos also weren’t protected under fair use.