Update, April 20, 2017: On Wednesday, a judge granted Prince’s estate a temporary restraining order against George Ian Boxill, which means the EP Deliverance will not be available to fans on Friday, as previously announced. Boxill has also been ordered to deliver the recordings to the estate. Prior to the May 3 expiration date of the restraining order, a hearing will determine what happens next. While the title track has disappeared from iTunes, it’s still streaming on Soundcloud (for now).
The posthumous Prince EP Deliverance, comprising previously unreleased songs, has been met with legal pushback less than 24 hours after its announcement by RMA (Rogue Media Artists). Paisley Park and Prince’s estate have joined forces for a federal lawsuit in a Minnesota district court with the intention of blocking the six-song EP from being released as scheduled on Friday, the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death. According to KSTP in Minneapolis, the suit alleges that George Ian Boxill, a sound engineer and mixer who worked with Prince and completed production on the songs featured in Deliverance, agreed to a confidentiality agreement which stated that their collaborations “would remain Prince’s sole and exclusive property” and that Boxill “would not use any recordings or property in any way whatsoever.” Variety reported on Tuesday night that this discrepancy would likely lead to legal action, so it’s not surprising that it has.
For Boxill’s part, he provided a statement in RMA’s initial press release arguing he was only doing what Prince would have wanted. “I believe Deliverance is a timely release with everything going on in the world today, and in light of the one-year anniversary of his passing. I hope when people hear Prince singing these songs it will bring comfort to many,” he said. “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.”
Paisley Park is arguing the opposite—that not only is Boxill violating Prince’s desire for privacy and control, as made evident via the confidentiality agreement, but that he’s exploiting Prince’s work for financial advantage. In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, tech writer and Prince expert Anil Dash made a similar point, zeroing in on the “legacy of black artists having their work stolen or exploited.”
Boxill has reportedly refused to return the recordings. The suit formally requests that he and any associates “return the Prince Recordings and refrain from using anything Boxill obtained with his sessions with Prince.” RMA still intends to go ahead with the release, according to NPR, pending a potential injunction.