MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Prince’s estate scored a victory Wednesday when a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the late pop star’s sound engineer from distributing any unreleased recordings, including a six-song EP that was set to be released Friday.
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright granted the restraining order to Paisley Park Enterprises and estate representative Comerica Bank & Trust, stopping Prince’s former sound engineer George Ian Boxill from releasing the “Deliverance” EP on Friday, the first anniversary of the pop star’s death.
Last week, the estate sued Boxill in Carver County District Court, claiming he breached his confidentiality agreement with Paisley Park Enterprises by trying to exploit unreleased songs for his personal gain. The case was removed to Minnesota federal court on Tuesday.
The estate says Boxill possesses sound recording and masters for five songs, but is now trying to exploit the songs for his personal gain.
According to the lawsuit, Boxill performed sound engineering services for Prince on those tracks in 2006, including a song called “Deliverance.”
Prince’s estate says Boxill did not have authorization to take any personal property from Paisley Park Enterprises, including the unreleased songs.
According to the complaint, the estate demanded on March 21 that Boxill return all recordings of Prince in his possession, including masters, copies or reproductions, but Boxill refused.
The estate argued that the representative of Prince’s estate is charged with maximizing the value of unreleased recordings, not Boxill. The estate also said that Boxill’s actions will damage the estate’s contractual relationship with business partners.
“Mr. Boxill is threatening to exploit the personal interests of a deceased person that do not belong to him. The sound recordings in Mr. Boxill’s possession contain recordings of Prince singing and playing the guitar and keyboard. The Estate has not granted permission to Mr. Boxill to use or distribute Prince’s performances,” the complaint states. “If Mr. Boxill publishes sound recordings Prince made before he died without authorization, it deprives Prince (and now the Estate) from choosing what is released to the public and when.” (Parentheses in original.)
The estate also argued that Boxill has no right to use Prince’s name, image or likeness in any manner.
Judge Wright apparently agreed Wednesday, citing the Eighth Circuit’s 1981 decision in Dataphase v. C L Systems in issuing a temporary restraining order against Boxill. The judge considered specific factors outlined in that case, including the threat of irreparable harm to the estate, finding that they weigh in favor of a restraining order.
Under Wright’s order, Boxill is banned from publishing any unreleased Prince recordings referenced in the confidentiality contract between Boxill and Paisley Park Enterprises.
Boxill is also required to deliver all of the recordings he has to the estate, including original recordings, analog and digital copies.
Boxill planned to release the “Deliverance” EP on Friday, exactly one year after Prince died. The six-track EP was pulled from iTunes, Amazon Music and Google Play after Wednesday’s ruling, according to Billboard.
The temporary restraining order is set to expire on May 3 unless Wright decides to extend it.
Boxill’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.