Songs that Prince recorded a decade before his untimely passing were slated to be released on April 21, the first anniversary of the artist’s death. However, a federal judge has barred these songs from being made public, at least temporarily, while it considers a dispute between Prince’s estate and the co-producer of that EP.
The Prince estate first sued music engineer George Ian Boxill last week in a Minnesota state court, but it didn’t really make news until that case was removed to federal court [PDF] on April 18. The lawsuit claims that Boxill, who had planned to release the six-song Deliverance EP, doesn’t have the rights to make these songs public. They contend that engineers employed by Prince and his Paisley Park Enterprises were never given any sort of ownership of the music they worked on. These songs, says the estate, were solely Prince’s to do with as he pleased, and he never chose to release them.
“Any dissemination of the recordings and underlying music compositions, or fixation of the same in any audiovisual work or otherwise, is unauthorized and in violation of the Estate’s rights to the master recordings and musical compositions,” said the estate earlier this week.
Last night, the judge in the case granted a temporary restraining order [PDF] barring Boxill, who worked on the tracks with Prince back in 2006 and 2008 and then completed them after the musician’s death, from publishing or releasing Deliverance in any manner.
Additionally, the order directs Boxill to turn over “all of the recordings acquired through his work with Paisley Park Enterprises, including original recordings, analog and digital copies, and any derivative works.”
This particular order expires on May 3, but the court could grant a more formal injunction before then that would put a halt to the release of these songs pending the outcome of the case.
The title track from the EP had already been released in advance of the scheduled April 21 full EP debut, but in a letter [PDF] filed with the court this morning, lawyers for Boxill noted that this song is no longer available and the princerogersnelson.com Boxill had set up to market and sell these songs is no longer active. Similarly, Apple’s iTunes has been directed to cancel any pre-orders for the disputed tracks.