Prince is demanding $22m (£13.3m, €16m) in copyright infringement damages from 22 Facebook and Blogger users who shared links to bootlegged copies of his live concert performances.
One of the live concerts that Prince is suing over is a 31-year-old recording from a 1983 concert in Chicago.
Unlike other musicians and most of the companies trying to stop copyright infringement, who usually try to take down file-sharing websites like The Pirate Bay and Kick Ass Torrents, Prince has decided to sue users who shared the links on social media.
According to the court documents, the 22 defendants either posted links on Facebook that go directly to the videos, or have websites on Blogger which link to other websites that eventually link to file-sharing websites.
He claims that the 22 defendants are costing him $1m each in damages by continuing to share bootlegged recordings of his concerts.
However, he only knows the names of two of the defendants, so some of the defendants are identified by usernames, some of which show that they are clearly big fans of his work.
The defendants are:
- Dan Chodera
- Karina Jindrova
- 11 unknown defendants
Prince is also demanding that all the "unlawful material" be impounded and returned to him.
In one of the cases mentioned in the lawsuit, Prince issued Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices to Google and the file-sharing services, asking them to take down bootleg recordings of a concert performed in North Carolina in March 2011.
The court documents state that after the DMCA notices were issued, the user PurpleKissTwo then began to post performance set lists on his blog with the instruction "U know what 2 do now".
If a user were to click the hyperlink on the word "do", they were led to an email address, which was used to distribute the bootlegged recordings.
Some of the users' accounts on Blogger and Facebook have been taken offline, while others, such as TheUltimateBootlegExperience, have posted a notice stating that bootlegging Prince's concerts is illegal.
Prince has a long history of suing individuals and companies for using his music without his permission, or issuing legal threats to make others back down.
In 2010, he famously stated that he feels "the internet is over", and that he was seeking other ways to distribute his music.
He has repeatedly forced video sharing websites like Vine and YouTube to remove footage taken by fans of concerts, including his cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, despite Radiohead's demand for the video to remain on YouTube.