VENICE, Italy – As expected, the Michael Jackson estate is appealing the verdict which in July awarded $9.4 million to music producer Quincy Jones in damages for allegedly unpaid royalties. John Branca, co-executor of the late singer’s estate, expects the case to go back in front of a jury “in the next couple of months.”
In an interview with Variety during the Venice Film Festival, where a new 3-D version of the 1983 “Thriller” video directed by John Landis world-premiered Monday, Branca said that “fairly serious errors were made in the trial.”
“So they are going to seek to overturn the judgment and then appeal it,” he added. Branca also specified that this action is the domain of the estate’s chief attorney, Howard Weitzman.
“We’ve always tried to pay Quincy fairly, and he should be,” Branca said. “His work with Michael was incredible…So he deserves to be paid fairly. And he [was].”
The verdict in Quincy’s favor, in a Los Angeles County Superior Court on July 26, revolved around alleged breach of contract over agreements signed in the 1970s and ’80s, when Jones and Jackson worked on three records – “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad” – which collectively have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Jones said during the trial that the master recordings for those albums were improperly remixed to deprive him of royalties and production fees that he was entitled to.
The dispute largely concerns profits from the concert film “This Is It,” the world’s highest-grossing concert film.
The Jackson estate says that an accounting error did cause Jones to miss out on some royalties, but put that figure at roughly $392,000 – a tiny fraction of both the $30 million that the producer sought and the $9.4 million that the jury ultimately awarded him.
“What you had there was a jury trying to understand fairly complicated recording contract provisions and accounting provisions that, quite frankly, both without a law school education and years in the music business, most people would find difficult to understand. So that appeal is being processed,” said Branca, who predicted that the case will be “back in front of a jury in the next couple of months.”