Instagram celebrity Abigail Ratchford paid tribute on Thursday to both St. Valentine and Prince with a 15-second long Instagram striptease, set to the singer’s 1991 song “Get Off”—or at least she did until the music publishing company administering His Royal Purpleness' song served her up a cease and desist letter.
The video features Ratchford—a model, aspiring actress, and the “Sweetheart of TMZ,” according to her website—doing her best Fifty Shades of Grey impression. She gyrates gleefully in a thong and thigh-high stockings, lightly smacks herself with a whip, and bites delicately at red handcuffs. A sofa and gold foil curtain provide background. TMZ calls the clip “awesome” and “ridiculously hot.” Prince probably said something inscrutable and released a dove. NPG Music Publishing, seeing Ratchford's performance as an unathorized use of the tune, decided it was time to lawyer up.
“We were forced to take down the video because of the song by Prince,” Ratchford wrote in the re-posted video’s caption, including thumbs down and broken heart emojis.
Prince has a long track record of zapping away unauthorized use of his songs from the Internet peons who dare use them. In 2012, he blocked Seattle artist Troy Gua from photographing 1/6 scale marionette versions of Le Petite Prince, which came complete with “tiny sets of funky clothes.” Gua complied, writing glumly at the time on his Facebook, “I simply do not wish to fight with my hero, and it is terribly disheartening to think that he may hold ill will towards me and this project.”
He demanded all YouTube evidence of his cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” be obliterated in 2008, to which Thom Yorke responded, “Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment…Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our song.”
Not even home video of a literal bouncing baby boy got past the Purple One’s crosshairs in 2007 because the baby happened to be bopping along to “Let’s Go Crazy.”
“Prince believes it is wrong for YouTube, or any user-generated site, to appropriate his music without his consent,” Universal Music Publishing Group said in a statement at the time. “That position has nothing to do with any particular video that uses his songs. It's simply a matter of principle. And legally, he has the right to have his music removed. We support him and this important principle. That is why, over the last few months, we have asked YouTube to remove thousands of different videos that use Prince music without his permission.”
Then there was that time Prince skipped humans entirely and went straight for the site hosting these craven attempts at stealing his money. He sued YouTube itself—along with eBay and Pirate Bay—in 2007 to “reclaim his art on the Internet.”
Which brings us back to Ratchford, who was forced to repost her BDSM-lite video party to the sound of Janet Jackson’s “Feedback.” The TMZ critics deem it “just not the same.” On that note, we’ll leave you with this self-posted photo of Ratchford as a 1-year-old baby. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Editor’s Note – This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the cease and desist letter was sent by NPG Music Publishing, LLC, the music publishing company administering the song, and that Prince himself was not behind the decision.