Given his towering genius and great eccentricity, it is no surprise that most tributes to Prince Rogers Nelson have focused on his music and his enigma – not his contribution to copyright law. Even so, such was the notoriety of his relationship with record companies and rights ownership that few obituaries failed to note his legal battles. These stemmed from a possessive approach to his back catalogue, for which it is hard to criticise him; and a sometimes heavy-handed policing of his copyright, on which point (by his own admission) he was prone to overstep. As far as maximising creative revenues goes, the jury is still out on both policies; but the industry (and its artists, agents and lawyers) will owe Prince a debt for repeatedly testing the boundaries of convention in his business practice, just as he did with his recordings.
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