A day after an unreleased Prince song titled "Deliverance" unexpectedly appeared on streaming services alongside news of an upcoming EP, the Prince estate has filed a federal lawsuit against the EP's co-producer Ian Boxill.
In the lawsuit, filed by Paisley Park Enterprises on Tuesday, the estate alleges that Boxill is packaging "Deliverance" and five other unpublished recordings featuring Prince without their permission. That collection of tracks, the Deliverance EP, is scheduled for release on April 21st, the one-year anniversary of Prince's death.
While the estate confirmed the music's authenticity, they stated that the release of the Deliverance tracks is "unauthorized" and that Boxill is violating the terms of his recording agreement with Prince.
Boxill planned on releasing Deliverance through Rogue Music Alliance (RMA), with "the majority" of all sales benefitting Prince's estate. Despite that promise, the estate explained their legal action against Boxill in a statement to Rolling Stone.
"The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson is aware that Mr. George Ian Boxill, in conjunction with Rogue Music Alliance, has issued a press release announcing an intent to distribute previously unreleased Prince master recordings and musical compositions," the estate said, adding that the release was "not authorized."
"During his unparalleled career, Prince worked with many sound engineers, including Mr. Boxill," the statement continued. "Like the other engineers that had the opportunity to work with Prince, Mr. Boxill signed an agreement, under which he agreed (1) all recordings that he worked on with Prince would remain Prince’s sole and exclusive property; (2) he would not use any recordings or property in any way whatsoever; and (3) he would return any such recordings or property to Prince immediately upon request. Mr. Boxill did not comply with his agreement. Instead, Mr. Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorization of the Estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law."
Both Boxill's rep and attorneys did not immediately reply to Rolling Stone's request for comment.
The songs on Deliverance stemmed from a 2006 recording session between Prince and Boxill, with the engineer completing the tracks following Prince's death. In a statement Tuesday, Boxill explained he avoided releasing the music through a major label because "Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public. When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that's what Prince would have wanted."
It's unclear whether the lawsuit will hamstring Deliverance's planned release on April 21st; RMA said the EP would be released both digitally and physically at all major digital music and retail stores. At press time, the EP was still available to pre-order on iTunes.
According to Minneapolis' KSTP, the lawsuit also demands that Boxill return "any and all masters, copies and reproductions" back to the estate, and states that the Deliverance release "deprives Prince (and now the Estate) from choosing what is released to the public and when."
"The Estate is taking immediate legal actions to prevent Mr. Boxill's continuing violations of his agreement and the rights of the Estate and its partners in Prince's recordings," the estate added. "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."
The Boxill lawsuit is the latest legal issue to embroil the Prince estate since the singer's death, with the estate involved in a lawsuit with Tidal over the exclusivity of Prince's digital catalog.