The estate of Michael Jackson was made to let go of $9.4 million after Jackson’s former producer Quincy Jones had a successful ruling that he was owed money for a movie and two live shows that featured music he produced with Jackson.
Jones requested $30 million for his contributions. Lawyers representing Jackson’s estate agreed that there was an accounting mistake and that Jones was owed money, but claimed it only amounted to $392,000.
The courtroom dispute revolved around exactly how valuable Jones’s contribution to the music are, and with the meaning of words in old contracts. Quincy Jones produced three Michael Jackson albums from 1979, 1982, and 1987, “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad,” respectively.
As The Hollywood Reporter said after the ruling, Jones stated, “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. 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.”
The Jackson estate attorneys had a different view of the matter. They disputed the fairness around the court’s interpretation of the contracts in question, mainly two contracts, one from 1978 and another from 1985, as Billboard indicates.
Jones was seeking royalties from the usage of songs in the documentary “This is It,” along with two Michael Jackson themed Cirque du Soleil shows. He also argued that he should have benefited from Jackson’s joint venture with Sony, that began in 1991, and argued about remix rights to songs.
Jackson’s lawyers responded, “This would reinterpret the legal language in, and effectively rewrite, contracts that Mr. Jones lived under for more than three decades, admitted he never read, referred to as ‘contract, montract,’ and told the jurors he didn’t ‘give a damn’ about. Any amount above and beyond what is called for in his contracts is too much and unfair to Michael’s heirs. Although Mr. Jones is portraying this as a victory for artists’ rights, the real artist is Michael Jackson and it is his money Mr. Jones is seeking.”