Some fan sites dedicated to Prince say they have been served legal notice to remove all images of the singer, his lyrics and “anything linked to Prince’s likeness”, and have vowed to fight what they said was censorship, according to Reuters.

The move was a shock to many of his followers and came two months after Prince threatened to sue YouTube and other major Internet sites for unauthorized use of his music and image.

But by targeting fan sites directly, Prince risks a backlash, and the sites have vowed to unite under the banner “Prince Fans United” and take the matter to court if necessary.

“We strongly believe that such actions are in violation of … freedom of speech and should not be allowed,” said a statement from the three sites — HouseQuake, PrinceFams and

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A company helping Prince control his image and music on the Internet said the fan sites had spun the story so that it was “incorrect and misleading”.

“At no time is Prince suing his fans and this is not about freedom of speech,” John Giacobbi, managing director of Internet policing specialist Web Sheriff, told Reuters. “The current issue is one between Prince’s record label and three unofficial Web sites and relates to the use of Prince trademarks and photographs, many of which are Prince’s copyright.”

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