Judge blocks release of unpublished Prince songs

Prince performs at 2007 NCLR ALMA Awards
A federal judge has blocked the planned release of a six-song record of Prince music by a sound engineer in California.
Kevin Winter | Getty Images for NCLR 2007

A federal judge has blocked the planned release of a six-song record of Prince music by a sound engineer in California.

U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright issued the order Wednesday night, after an emergency hearing in federal court in St. Paul. Sound engineer Ian Boxill and a Washington state record company had announced earlier in the week that they were preparing to issue "Deliverance," an EP of music that featured previously unreleased music by Prince recorded in 2006.

Boxill's lawyer, Tony Zeuli, told the judge that Boxill considered himself a co-creator of the music, which featured Prince playing and singing. Zeuli said that Boxill was responsible for the guitar, bass and drum tone in the music and that he had personally produced the backing vocals for the tracks. Zeuli said Boxill planned to give Prince's estate a fair share of the proceeds.

A lawyer for Prince's estate, Lora Friedemann, said the estate acknowledged that Boxill recorded the music. But Friedemann said the sound engineer did not create Prince's work and had no rights to it. She said the release constituted theft, misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.

"Paisley Park owns all materials Mr. Boxill created with Prince," Friedemann told the judge. "Mr. Boxill is misappropriating those assets to the detriment of the estate and for his own personal benefit."

Wright issued a three-page order blocking the music release. It says Boxill and anyone working with him are banned from publishing or disseminating any unreleased recordings of Prince music. Wright also granted Friedemann's request to get the music back: "Defendant shall deliver all of the recordings acquired through is work with Paisley Park Enterprises, including original recordings, analog and digital copies and any derivative works, to Plaintiffs in consultation with Plaintiff's counsel of record."

The order came after nearly an hour and a half of argument before Wright in a St. Paul courtroom on Wednesday night. It also came after Boxill and the record company, the Rogue Music Alliance, released what they called the single from the collection, "Deliverance." It was briefly available on iTunes and got some exposure on music websites and samples were played on some radio stations Wednesday.

The EP was scheduled to be released to commemorate the anniversary of Prince's death Friday.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.