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Prince's Message to Everyone: Stop Bootlegging My Stuff

September 14, 2007 12:22 PM ET

Prince has a message 4 U: Stop UR illegal downloading! To prove he means business, the Purple One is prepping lawsuits against major file-trading sites like YouTube, eBay and Pirate Bay to reclaim control over bootlegged tunes, videos and merchandise. No legal docs have been filed, but the singer recently hired London-based company Web Sheriff, which has been trolling the Net for sites selling unlicensed goods (everything from Prince-adorned socks to key rings) to provide evidence should the star decide to take the battle to court. "This isn't necessarily about money," says Web Sheriffâ's president John Giacobbi, who has wiped off 2,000 illegally uploaded videos from YouTube and shut down about 300 eBay auctions, as well as multiple multiple overseas sites selling unauthorized merchandise. "Prince feels very strongly about his artistry -- he wants it to be reflected the way he wants. There's no problem with some guy selling his twenty-five-year-old copy of Purple Rain, but we object to a Chinese sweatshop turning out Purple Rain shopping bags and selling them by the thousands."

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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