After four years, Quincy Jones comes out a victor in a lawsuit where he sought royalties for his production services of hits on some of Michael Jackson’s biggest albums.
Yesterday (July 26), a jury ruled that he should be granted $9.4 mllion in royalties from Michael Jackson’s estate. Jones was seeking a $30 million payout, while the estate contested that Jones was owed only $392,000.
“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 wrote 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 favor in this matter. I view it not only as a victory for myself personally, but for artists’ rights overall.”
In his lawsuit, Jones claimed MJ’s estate and Sony Music Entertainment owed him for the music they used in years following MJ’s death in 2009, music which he had a hand in producing — music from Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad as well as the posthumous This Is It soundtrack and two Cirque du Soleil shows. Jones claimed in the lawsuit that the posthumous works were re-edited for the sole purpose to deprive Jones of his royalties and production fees. He also stated that he had the contractual right to take first crack at any re-edit or remix as the songs’ original producer. 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.
Jones signed contracts with Michael in 1978 and 1985. Under the terms of the agreement, Jones is entitled to a share of net receipts from a “videoshow” of the songs. The Jackson attorneys argued the term was meant to apply to music videos and not feature films.
The estate/Sony believed that Jones should only be compensated for licensing fees for songs used in those three productions (This Is It soundtrack and the two Cirque du Soleil shows).
Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said he and his team were upset by the verdict. “I understand everybody’s going to say it could have been much worse – they were asking for huge amounts,” Weitzman said. “We’re still disappointed.” He said the estate planned an appeal.
Jones made it clear during the trial when he took the stand that he was not suing Michael, he was suing the gatekeepers of his estate. Jones was asked by Jackson estate attorney Weitzman whether he realized he was essentially suing Jackson himself. Jones angrily disagreed. “I’m not suing Michael,” he said. “I’m suing you all,” The Guardian reports.