×

A Minnesota judge on Monday ordered a recording engineer to pay Prince’s estate almost $4 million for releasing an unauthorized EP of songs by the late musician in 2017.

George Ian Boxill, who worked with Prince from 2004 through 2008, released the “Deliverance” EP to streaming services in April 2017 in breach of his contract with Paisley Park Enterprises and the artist, the judge ruled; on the release, Boxill claimed co-writing and co-producing credits with Prince. The release of the EP was almost immediately followed by a lawsuit from the artist’s estate and was quickly removed from streaming services and retailers after a hearing held in Minnesota. During its brief window of availability, the release reached No. 1 on iTunes’ pre-order chart and No. 2 on Amazon’s album chart. Boxill’s business partners, Rogue Music Alliance, LLC, David Staley and Gabriel Solomon Wilson, were also named in the action.

An arbitrator later held that Boxill breached his contract with Prince and awarded the estate $3,960,000. The estate is also pursuing claims for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and improper use of the late superstar’s image and likeness. At the 2017 hearing, Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright of the United States District court issued a temporary restraining blocking Boxill’s efforts to release any of Prince’s music and ordered him to “deliver all of the recordings acquired through his work with Paisley Park Enterprises” and return them to the estate.

Troy Carter, entertainment advisor to the estate, said, “Prince was an exceptionally talented musician. The estate protects the music Prince created aggressively and is pleased with the award against Mr. Boxill.”

Despite the shady provenance of the EP, which was released near the first anniversary of the musician’s death, the songs on it are surprisingly strong — particularly the title track, a bluesy slow-burner with some blazing guitar work, gospelesque backing singers and a soaring falsetto vocal from Prince. An “opera” included on it is less successful but still intriguing — the four linked segments are dramatically different stylistically, ranging from a simple rocker to a gentle ballad, a complex, almost classical segment and a closing slow groove — as is the longer version of the song “I Am.” The material is strongly reminiscent of Prince’s 2006 album “3121,” which dates from the same era and many fans feel is among the best of his later albums.