A United States District Court judge in Minnesota has granted a temporary restraining order to the estate of Prince against the planned release of a six-song EP titled Deliverance the musician recorded between 2006 and 2008.
News of the surprise release first arrived Tuesday night in a press release touting "New undiscovered Prince recordings." The title track, opening with a fierce blues riff before settling into a steady gospel-tinged groove, became immediately available on iTunes and Apple Music, with the other five songs set for release on Friday, the one-year anniversary of the musician's death.
But on Wednesday, Prince's estate sued George Ian Boxill, the project's co-producer, claiming Boxill was "unauthorized" to release the music.
"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 said on Wednesday before the ruling. "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."
On Wednesday night, a judge agreed with the estate, writing that Boxill "shallnot publish or otherwise disseminate any unreleased recordings that comprise the work ofPrince Rogers Nelson that are alleged to be within the scope of the ConfidentialityAgreement between Boxill and Paisley Park Enterprises." The ruling also forced Boxill to immediately deliver all of the recordings to the estate.
As of press time, "Deliverance" is no longer available on any streaming services.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, David Staley, co-founder of RMA, the Vancouver, Washington record label behind the EP, says that as the title track "Deliverance" was commercially released prior to the temporary restraining order, he is confident the single will soon be available again on major digital platforms.
"I was pleased by the ruling last night, which in a nutshell indicated everything that has been released up to the time of the judge's ruling, late evening April 19th, can be and should be enjoyed by the fans," Staley tells Rolling Stone. "This includes the 'Deliverance' single and all other released works. My team and I are excited for the 'Deliverance' single to be available again to Prince's loyal fans. I, like Ian, feel 'Deliverance' is a very timely song and believe it will bring comfort to many in these trying times."
A representative for the estate did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the judge's ruling, but in a statement on Wednesday, laid out their case against Boxill.
"During his unparalleled career, Prince worked with many sound engineers, including Mr. Boxill," the statement said. "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," the statement continued. "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."
The restraining order is set to expire on May 3rd, with a hearing planned before then to determine the next course of action.