Prince is at the centre of a bitter legal battle as representatives of publishing giant Warner Music mount a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the late singer’s estate.
Lawyers for Warner Chappell Italy are suing the star’s estate for more than three million dollars, plus ongoing royalties, for his hit song The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.
In 1994, the track went to number one in Australia - where it remains one of the few places on earth it is allowed to be played commercially after Roman courts banned it from radio across Europe, ruling Prince had plagiarised it from Italian artists Bruno Bergonzi and Michele Vicino.
Legal action taken against Prince
Prince’s estate - headquartered at Universal Music in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo for legal purposes in Australia - was hit with the lawsuit in July.
Warner Chappell Music, represented by Australian law firm Mills Oakley, has asked the NSW Supreme Court to recognise four judgments made by appeal courts in Rome between 2008 and 2018.
The decisions recognise Bergonzi and Vicino as the true authors of the song, ruling Prince plagiarised it from a track released more than 10 years earlier.
The court ruled that Bergonzi’s and Vicino’s lesser known song ‘Takin Me To Paradise’, recorded by Jay Rolandi and released in 1983 by Warner Chappell Music in Italy, was virtually copied by Prince.
Allegations of plagiarism
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was released during Prince’s period performing and publishing music under an unpronounceable symbol - a move caused by legal and contractual disputes with Warner at the time.
Under the current lawsuit, Warner is seeking 1,924,995 Euros from Prince’s estate in damages plus ongoing royalties from the song being played in Australia.
The song is barred from many corners of the internet due to its controversial origins and has been wiped from global streaming service Spotify.
Prince died in 2016 after an accidental overdose of Fentanyl. He was 58.
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