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Prince is said to be in talks with three unofficial fan websites which could lead to a settlement over an ongoing copyright dispute.

In what has been seen by many as an aggressive campaign to clamp down on the unauthorised use of his image and music all over the pesky interweb, the pint-sized warbling funkster has kept himself very busy cramming up on his intellectual property rights.

Caught up in one particular legal crossfire with the star have been three popular Prince fan websites (Housequake.com, Princefans.com and Prince.org) which formed a group dubbed Prince Fans United to challenge the take-down notices slapped on the sites.

On Saturday, the Prince Fans United website posted a statement which said:

We can now confirm that talks are underway to resolve matters pertaining to the online fan communities that recently formed under the coalition banner of "Prince Fans United".

Everyone involved now wishes to move on towards a more harmonious [sic] future, where the protection of artists' rights and the freedoms of fan forums can happily co-exist.

We are working towards a position where mutually-acceptable guidelines can be agreed upon for unofficial fan sites.

In the hope of reassuring disappointed Prince fans, the Purple Rain star's people had described the group of websites as "unofficial and unauthorised phoney fan sites that exploit both consumers and artists".

But Prince Fans United slammed the "phoney" suggestion as "confusing, libellous and misleading".

Last week UK-based b3ta.com was issued with a flurry of DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) notices from internet copyright enforcers Web Sheriff working on behalf of Prince's legal team.

The edgy, satirical website responded somewhat uncharacteristically with an "unreserved" apology for the small big Eighties star and his record label.

Elsewhere, the pop star's legal team have ordered YouTube, eBay and The Pirate Bay to remove hundreds of supposedly Prince-infringing web items. ®

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