The bass player Peter Hook has accused a studio engineer of wanting money from him and his former bandmates in exchange for rare tapes of them playing during their New Order and Joy Division heydays - preventing him from releasing the music to the public.
Julia Adamson, who helped legendary producer Martin Hannett in the studio while recording the bands during the 1980s, recently revealed that she was in possession of several tapes long thought to have been lost or destroyed.
Collectors and fans of the cult bands reacted with glee at the news that a copy of the master tapes of Unknown Pleasures, the first of just two albums Joy Division made before lead singer Ian Curtis killed himself in 1980, was among other studio outtakes.
Saying she had rescued them from a skip and had "looked after these tapes for a long time", Ms Adamson had claimed on her Facebook page she was "subjected to accusations and abuse" when she approached Hook and the other former Joy Division members, who later became New Order.
Responding to her comments, Hook said he was "absolutely delighted" the tapes had been saved, but implied Ms Adamson was unreasonably trying to chivvy money out of him.
In an interview with the website Pitchfork, he compared the situation to losing a dog. "You have your heart broken, and someone phones you up and goes, 'I've got your dog' and you go 'oh, fantastic, I'm so happy, I'll come down to collect him,' and they go 'no I want ten dollars'. Unfortunately, it comes down to that, usually," he said.
"As far as groups are concerned, [the music] is their property. If I found some Nine Inch Nails tapes or Stone Roses tapes, and you contacted the Stone Roses, they'd all go, 'they're ours!' There's a culture of finder's keepers, so invariably, over the years, I've bought many items of memorabilia back from various people.
Hook, who quit New Order in 2007, is currently involved in a trademark dispute with the rest of the group, arguing they cannot continue to play using the same band name. However, he said that he would be keen to reclaim the tapes to release the music together with his old friends.
"Warner Bros. has reissued a hell of a lot of Joy Division stuff, but it's just the same stuff over and over," Hook said. "It'd be nice to issue something that fans would love and cherish. Hopefully these tapes will enable us to do something different."
He added that the tapes are especially rare because the band had few funds to spend on time in the studio. "There are so little outtakes from the Joy Divison era. We didn't have much money. You couldn't be very generous in recording, so we were very thrifty in how we recorded. Everything was very, very well looked after financially because we just couldn't afford it."