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Quincy Jones wins $9.4 million in royalties battle with Michael Jackson estate

By | Published on Thursday 27 July 2017

Michael Jackson

Legendary record producer Quincy Jones was awarded $9.4 million yesterday at the conclusion of his legal battle over unpaid royalties against the Michael Jackson estate.

As previously reported, Jones accused Sony Music and MJJ Productions – one of Michael Jackson’s companies, now controlled by the Jackson estate – of screwing him out of $30 million in royalties. Mainly in relation to projects and deals done since the late king of pop’s death in 2009 which exploited the famous Jackson recordings that Jones produced.

MJJ countered that Jones was incorrectly interpreting contracts he signed with Jackson in 1978 and 1985, on which the royalty claims were based.

Although the $9.4 million the jury awarded Jones is considerably less than he thought he was due, it is also a whole lot more than the Jackson estate wanted to pay. Reps for the estate conceded that, as a result of accounting errors, the producer had been underpaid on some royalties, but they argued that the unpaid sums came to less than $400,000. Meaning, all in all, yesterday’s result was seen very much as victory for Jones.

He said in a statement: “As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s creation is of paramount importance. I, along with the team I assembled with Michael, took great care and purpose in creating these albums, and it has always given me a great sense of pride and comfort that three decades after they were originally recorded, these songs are still being played in every corner of the world”.

The statement went on: “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 judgement 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”.

Lawyers for the Jackson estate said they were both disappointed and surprised by the ruling, though conceded that jury-based judgements are always harder to predict. They told reporters: “While the jury denied Quincy Jones $21 million – or more than two-thirds of what he demanded – from the estate of Michael Jackson, we still believe that giving him millions of dollars that he has no right to receive under his contracts is wrong”.

They added that the ruling effectively rewrote “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”. They concluded: “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 is a victory for artists’ rights, the real artist is Michael Jackson and it is his money Mr Jones is seeking”.

The estate is expected to appeal the decision.