A federal judge in Minneapolis has put a stop to Friday's release of six previously unpublished Prince songs.
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright late Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order to stop sound engineer George Ian Boxill from releasing the EP Deliverance and ordered him to return the recordings to the singer's estate.
The decision came one day before the first anniversary of Prince's April 21, 2016, death from a prescription drug overdose at age 57 at Paisley Park in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen.
Prince's estate and Paisley Park Enterprises (his primary business entity), allege that Boxill, who co-wrote and co-produced the six tracks with Prince in 2006, was trying to exploit the recordings for personal gain. (The songs include Deliverance, I Am, Touch Me, Sunrise Sunset, No One Else and an extended version of I Am.)
A pre-order for the EP was made available on Tuesday on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon and the title track had already been available for sale. All were pulled down Wednesday evening. It's not clear whether the temporary restraining order extends through June 2, when the CD was scheduled to go on sale at Walmart, Target and other retailers.
Prince and Boxill co-wrote and co-produced all of the tracks, and after Prince's death, Boxill completed the compositions and arrangements, finished the production and mixed the songs.
"I hope when people hear Prince singing these songs it will bring comfort to many," Boxill said in a press release published Tuesday by Rogue Music Alliance, through which he intended to release the music. He explained that the songs were written and recorded when Prince was an independent artist, "protesting what he saw as an unjust music industry."
The lawsuit claimed that Boxill had no right to the recordings due to a 2004 confidentiality agreement that stipulated that all of the recordings, valued at $75,000, would remain the sole and exclusive property of Prince.