Prince Deliverance Single Drops, But EP Still Blocked

The anniversary of Prince's death is commemorated with a lawsuit over his music.

The artist Prince died last year on this date and, like his life, it is being marked with a legal battle over his music. People may remember that Prince changed his name to a symbol to become the Artist Fomerly Know As Prince, shaved his beard into the word slave and went out on an anti-Warner Brothers tour because the label couldn’t keep up with his musical output. Deliverance, a new Prince EP of previously unreleased material, was announced to drop today, but it was held up by Prince’s estate. That didn’t stop Vancouver, Washington-based Christian indie label Rogue Music Alliance from dropping the title track on streaming services including Apple Music, and for pre-order on iTunes.

The songs on the Deliverance EP were recorded between 2006 and 2008 with producer and songwriter Ian Boxill, a long-time engineer at Paisley Park recording studio. Paisley Park Enterprises and the Prince estate sued to block its release, because RMA broke a $30 million licensing deal between the estate and Universal Music Group, with a nod to Warner Brothers.

“Mr. Boxill did not comply with his agreement,” the estate announced in a statement to Billboard. “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.”

A judge ruled in favor of the Prince estate on Wednesday night, writing that Boxill “shall not publish or otherwise disseminate any unreleased recordings that comprise the work of Prince Rogers Nelson that are alleged to be within the scope of the Confidentiality Agreement between Boxill and Paisley Park Enterprises.”

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Boxill was also ordered to deliver all of the recordings to the estate.

Rogue Music Alliance said the ruling does not apply to the single. 

“The Federal Court located in Minnesota has temporarily enjoined the release of the remaining unreleased tracks on the Deliverance EP,” Matthew Wilson, a lawyer for the label said in a statement. “The court order has not enjoined the released single ‘Deliverance.’ Therefore the ‘Deliverance’ single will continue to be sold.”

“The Estate has not authorized any such release and is not affiliated with either Mr. Boxill or Rogue Music Alliance,” a representative for RMA said in a statement.

“During his unparalleled career, Prince worked with many sound engineers, including Mr. Boxill.  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.

“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. 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 restraining order expires on May 3 unless there is an extension.