An appeals court in Italy has ruled pop superstar Prince stole his THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD hit from two European songwriters.
Officials at the Court of Appeal in Rome have decided the 1994 hit borrowed heavily from Bruno Bergonzi and Michele Vicino's Takin' Me to Paradise.
Under the ruling, Prince must stop distributing the song on Italian territory. He also faces having to pay the royalties he has so far accumulated to Bergonzi and Vicino and their publishers, but only if a final hearing confirms the Italian songwriting duo was plagiarised.
Bergonzi and Vicino's tune was a small European pop hit in 1983.
Bergonzi tells Billboard.com, "When we first heard Prince's song we immediately took action, but this case has been dragging on for 15 years and it isn't over yet, such is the slowness of the Italian legal system. We only decided to go public with our story now."
A court originally rejected the songwriters' claim in 2003.
For a sentence to become definitive in Italy, a "third degree" ruling is necessary.
Claudio Buja, the head of Prince's new label Universal Music Publishing in Italy, tells the website, "We are waiting to see the outcome of the third and final sentence. We're wary of making a comment at this stage, but I can say that plagiarism cases are invariably delicate and difficult."