Prince has taken a $22 million legal action against 22 people for posting copies of live performances online.
Court documents list the individuals said to have distributed bootleg recordings using Facebook and blogs.
One fan on a major Prince fan forum wrote: “Doing things like this is making him lose more and more fans.”
However, other fans rushed to defend the singer’s right to protect his vast back catalogue of material.
The action, filed earlier this month, reads: “The defendants in this case engage in massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince’s material.
“For example, in just one of the many takedown notices sent to Google with respect to Doe 2 (aka DaBang319), Prince identified 363 separate infringing links to file-sharing services, with each link often containing copies of bootlegged performances of multiple separate musical compositions.”
The documents go on to outline a range of blog sites and Facebook profiles where live renditions of classic Prince’s tracks such as Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette could be downloaded, or where links to such material could be found.
Fans on the long-established Prince.org forum suggested that although the action was surprising, it was not out of character for Prince. The 55-year-old has often used legal battles to crack down on unauthorized distribution of his music.