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Prince estate returns to court over unofficial posthumous EP

By | Published on Friday 22 June 2018


A legal dispute between the Prince estate and the producer who attempted to release an EP of previously unheard Prince recordings is ongoing, with the former returning to court this week asking the judge to force the latter to hand over documents relating to the case.

Producer Ian Boxill worked with Prince between 2006 and 2008, and in April last year announced plans to release a collection of six unreleased tracks they had collaborated on. But shortly before the record’s release date, the Prince estate was granted a temporary restraining order blocking it, before getting a preliminary injunction banning the release.

The estate claims that a contract between Boxill and Prince said that any copyrights created as a result of the two men’s collaborations would be wholly owned by the latter. That would mean that Boxill could not release the music without Prince’s permission, which now means without the permission of the Prince estate.

It also alleges that Boxill and his company exploited Prince’s trademarks and likeness without permission in promotional materials for the planned EP release. Its legal action sought a court order that would ban Boxill from ever releasing music he created with Prince and which would compel the producer to hand over any masters in his possession.

Earlier this year the estate asked the court to rule by default in its favour because Boxill had failed to respond to its lawsuit, but the legal dispute continues to go through the motions. Although, while Boxill and the other defendants in the case do now seem to be responding to the litigation, the estate argues that they have failed to hand over sufficient documentation.

According to Law 360, new court papers filed by the estate say that Boxill and the company that was set to release the EP – Rogue Music Alliance – have not been sufficiently forthcoming with documents during the so called ‘discovery process’ in the case. The estate’s new filing states: “Plaintiffs’ patience with defendants’ discovery deficiencies is at an end. RMA’s continued failure to engage in basic discovery must be remedied”.

Estate reps say that RMA has so far provided a “meagre” 57 documents in response to its request for information, and none of the text message or email conversations which it reckons are required as part of the case. It also criticised the various excuses the defendants have provided for not sharing information, including disputing to what extend attorney-client privilege can be used in order to keep certain documents confidential.

For their part, Boxill et al now dispute the estate’s interpretation of the producer’s original agreement with Prince. They also reckon that Boxill co-owns the copyright in the recordings he produced with the musician and are seeking court confirmation of that claim.

It remains to be seen to what extent the court now forces Boxill and RMA to hand over all the documentation and correspondence the estate says it needs to see.