The producer who attempted to release an EP of previously unpublished songs by deceased music legend Prince has fired back at the “1999” singer’s estate, after it took action to block the release of the music.
In the latest stand off between producer George Ian Boxill and Prince’s estate, Boxill fired off legal papers Monday saying that the estate has no right to sue over the tunes.
Specifically, the papers say that a confidentiality agreement that Boxill signed pertains only to his work as a consultant on the remodeling of the recording studios at Paisley Park.
Boxill goes on to state that Prince, who died in April 21, 2016 at age 57 of an overdose of the opioid fentanul, allowed Boxill to record him and to keep the recordings in his possession.
“Either Prince understood that the Agreement did not apply to Boxill’s work as a sound engineer and collaborator, or Prince waived enforcement of the Agreement,” court papers filed by Boxill’s legal team in a Minnesota federal court read. “Under either scenario, and because the statutes of limitation have run, Plaintiffs’ contract claim, and the related claims dependent upon enforcement of the Agreement, must be dismissed.”
The court papers also assert that the estate’s right to publicity claims should be tossed, because Minnesota does not recognize post-mortem rights of publicity.
The legal back-and-forth between Boxill and the estate began days before the first anniversary of Prince’s death, when the EP’s title track was made available on iTunes, with an announcement that the rest of the EP would be released April 21.
“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,” Boxill said in a statement.
However, the estate quickly filed a suit to block the EP’s release,
“The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson is aware that Mr. George Ian Boxill, in conjunction with Rogue Music Alliance, has issued a press release announcing an intent to distribute previously unreleased Prince master recordings and musical compositions. The Estate has not authorized any such release and is not affiliated with either Mr. Boxill or Rogue Music Alliance,” a spokesman for Comerica, which administers the estate, told TheWrap in a statement at the time.
“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,” Comerica continued in its statement.
Last week, a judge extended the restraining order that the estate had obtained preventing the music’s release.
However, the judge also required the estate to put up a $1 million serves as a bond. While the restraining order barring the release of the songs has been extended to 11:59 p.m. on May 22 — unless it’s extended again — the order will be “dissolved” if the estate doesn’t post the bond by 5 p.m. on May 12.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.