Friday 15 November 2019

Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones £7 million - LA jury

Michael Jackson, left, pictured with Quincy Jones at the Grammy Awards in 1984 (AP)
Michael Jackson, left, pictured with Quincy Jones at the Grammy Awards in 1984 (AP)

A US jury has decided that Michael Jackson's estate owes Quincy Jones 9.4 million dollars (£7m) in royalties and production fees from Billie Jean, Thriller and other huge hits by the King of Pop.

The award from the Los Angeles Superior Court jury fell short of the 30 million dollars (£23m) sought by legendary producer Jones in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago.

The Jackson estate had put the figure at about 392,000 dollars (£299,000).

The jury of 10 women and two men had been deliberating since Monday.

"This lawsuit was never about Michael, it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created," Jones said in a statement.

"Although this (judgment) is not the full amount that I was seeking, I am very grateful that the jury decided in our favour in this matter.

"I view it not only as a victory for myself personally, but for artists' rights overall."

Estate lawyer Howard Weitzman said he and his team were surprised by the verdict.

"I understand everybody's going to say it could have been much worse - they were asking for huge amounts, 30 (million)," he said.

"We're still disappointed."

He said the estate planned to appeal against the decision.

Jones claimed in the lawsuit that Jackson's estate and Sony Music Entertainment owed him for music he had produced that was used in the concert film This Is It and two Cirque du Soleil shows that used Jackson's songs.

The lawsuit said the entities had improperly re-edited the songs to deprive Jones of royalties and production fees and that he had a contractual right to have the first crack at any re-edit or remix.

The Jackson camp argued that Jones should be paid only licensing fees for songs used in those three productions.

Jones claimed he was entitled to a share of the overall receipts from them.

The trial centred on the definitions of terms in the two contracts Jackson and Jones signed in 1978 and 1985.

Under the deals, for example, Jones is entitled to a share of net receipts from a "videoshow" of the songs.

The Jackson lawyers argued that the term was meant to apply to music videos, not feature films.

Jury foreman Duy Nguyen, 28, said the contracts were the strongest pieces of evidence the panel considered and hearing Jones' evidence was also helpful.

He said he and many members of the jury were Jackson fans, but that did not affect the deliberations.

He said the verdict amount was a compromise figure based on an expert's evidence.

Jones took the stand during the trial and was asked by Jackson estate lawyer Howard Weitzman whether he realised he was essentially suing Jackson himself.

Jones angrily disagreed.

"I'm not suing Michael," he said. "I'm suing you all."

The defence lawyers pointed out that Jackson's death in 2009 had already been lucrative for Jones, who made eight million dollars (£6m) from his share of their works in the two years after the 50-year-old singer's death, versus three million dollars (£2.2m) in the two years previous.

"You don't deserve a raise," Mr Weitzman said during closing arguments. "You can't have any more of Michael Jackson's money."

Jones insisted he was seeking his due for the work he has done rather than merely seeking money.

His lawyer Scott Cole accused the defence of using "word games and loopholes" to deny Jones, the Hollywood Reporter said.

The producer worked with Jackson on the three-album run widely considered the performer's prime, Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad.

Jackson's hits from those albums, including Billie Jean, Thriller and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, are among the songs Jones claims were re-edited.

The lawsuit initially set the amount Jones sought at least 10 million dollars (£7.6m), but his lawyers later arrived at 30 million after an accounting of the estate's profits from the works.


PA Media

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