Producer Quincy Jones Files Suit Against Michael Jackson Estate

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There’s a grim saying in parts of the entertainment industry that says, “Death is a good career move.” Nowhere has that sardonic proverb seemed more fitting than in the case of Michael Jackson.

Always a focus of controversy and legal action during his too-short life, the disputes have only intensified since his 2009 death. Most recently, the famous music producer Quincy Jones filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment and MJJ Productions, a company that controls the late singer’s copyrights and is controlled by his estate. Jones alleges that the defendants denied him credits and royalties from several Jackson musical projects that were released after the singer’s death. Jones alleges breach of contract and asks for $10 million in damages.

Since Jackson died, sales of his work have skyrocketed. The industry has tried to respond to audience demand through expanded re-releases of his studio albums, a concert film and a Cirque du Soleil theatrical production based upon his music. The theatrical production alone has brought in an estimated $300 million in the past two years. In his lawsuit, Jones alleges that the Cirque du Soleil production and other works used edited versions of music that he produced for Jackson, but that he was denied his full royalties from this work. He alleges that the defendants breached their contracts with him when they edited songs that he originally produced, such as “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Thriller” and “Beat It” without first asking Jones to do the editing work himself.

Copyrights on musical works are a notoriously complicated area of entertainment law. When musicians or others in Florida’s entertainment industry are stuck in a dispute over royalties or other matters of copyright law, they need help from legal professionals with deep knowledge and experience in this field.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Quincy Jones Files $10M Lawsuit Over Michael Jackson Music,” Eriq Gardner, Oct. 25, 2013

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