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In the wake of Prince’s death last month, many fans who wanted to share their memories of the artist on social media were stymied by the fact that his catalog is not widely available online.
Still, people eventually began uncovering all sorts of rare videos of performances and sharing them online. And, as TorrentFreak points out, at least 100,000 people accessed a pirated version his music on KickassTorrents.
But there’s a good chance that this content may not be available for long. The number of takedown notices filed with Google by Web Sheriff, the company hired by Prince to help him fight piracy, has spiked as the company continues its fight to protect his material.
During the week of April 25, Web Sheriff filed 1,265 takedown notices with Google, asking the search engine to remove links to pirated content primarily available on torrent sites. The company removed most, though not all, of the links from its search results.
Just a month earlier, Web Sheriff filed only 278 takedown requests with Google during a one-week period.
Of course, the material is still there on torrent sites. But the removal of a link from Google’s search engine will make it harder for the average person to find it. And if Web Sheriff is going after Google results, it is undoubtedly taking other steps to get the content removed directly.
The moves are no doubt in keeping with Prince’s wishes.
While Prince’s music could be purchased through the iTunes store or streamed on Tidal, he had worked with Web Sheriff for almost a decade to block all pirated versions. Web Sheriff manages content protection for creatives and does things like file takedown notices to search engines and send warnings to anyone posting copyrighted content.
The advantages of Prince’s copyright controls could be seen when several of his albums shot to the top of the charts in the days following his passing. Indeed, USA Today noted that in those first three days, he sold 650,000 albums (both digital and physical). In the three days previous, he had sold 1,400.
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