The clip was taken just hours after the singer's death
It took action against a clip filmed by Star Tribune reporter Aaron Lavinsky.
According to Universal, the footage violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).
Lavinsky’s video was originally hosted on Twitter, but it has since been pulled.
“This is very disturbing: Universal Music filed a DCMA takedown on a video I shot of thousands of Prince fans singing ‘Purple Rain’ the night of his death,” Lavinsky wrote. “This was clearly fair use and UMPG and Twitter are in the wrong.”
The DMCA, which “bars the unlawful reproduction, distribution or performance of copyrighted Works,” was originally passed in order to help curb online peer-to-peer file sharing, on platforms including Napster.
But the fair use standard can often excuse material that is used for factual work, noncommercial purposes, or nonprofit educational purposes. The website even lists “a news item” as one of the potential examples of fair use.
It is unclear whether the Star Tribune will fight the DMCA takedown, but they pointed out, content creators have successfully done so in the past – in particular, creators of music-filled viral videos.
Meanwhile, it was recently announced on what would would have been the iconic artist’s 60th birthday that a previously unreleased Prince album will finally be available to purchase in September.