You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson’s Estate Duel Over Contract Wording in Royalties Trial

A Los Angeles jury on Monday heard closing arguments in a music royalties trial pitting veteran music producer Quincy Jones against the estate of Michael Jackson, who dueled over whether Jones had been underpaid.

Jones claims he is owed $30 million in unpaid royalties and licensing fees for music he produced and that was used after the singer’s death in Cirque du Soleil shows and the film “This Is It.”

The civil case spanned just over two weeks in Los Angeles Superior Court and will be decided by a 12-member jury that begins deliberations this week.

During the closing arguments, attorneys for both sides accused the other of “word games” as they took their last shot to persuade the jury. They offered conflicting interpretations of contract language, urging them to consider how Jones had been paid under two previous producing contracts he signed with Jackson.

Scott Cole, an attorney for Jones, said the producer was wrongly cut out of the deals Jackson’s estate had negotiated for the “This Is It” documentary and the two Cirque shows. Jones’ attorneys argued that a previous contract signed by Jackson and Jones should have counted those reproductions as “records” and be paid accordingly. Under the terms of the past contract, Jones should have been given first shot at remixing the songs, they argued.

“From 1978, up until Michael’s death, this partnership worked as it should have,” Cole said, painting his client as someone who is not litigious. “After seven decades, Quincy Jones filed his first-ever lawsuit,” he said.

Using a projection screen, the two sides highlighted for the jurors contract language and other materials that they said bolstered their sides.

Jones’ team referenced a letter of direction by Jackson telling Sony how to calculate royalties payable to Jones. Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Jackson estate, pointed to Jones’ testimony on Friday as evidence that the producer does not care what the language contract says and is instead seeking to make more money on top of royalties already paid.

Attorneys for Michael Jackson’s estate acknowledge Jones is owed some money – between $2 million and $3 million – but they contend that Jones is wrongly trying to be paid more money than he is entitled to.

These are “claims that never came up while Michael was alive,” said Zia Modabber, an attorney for Jackson’s estate, accusing Jones and his legal team of a “tortured” interpretation of the past contracts.

The lucrative joint ventures that came after Jackson’s death generated roughly $500 million for the estate, which benefits, among others, Jackson’s three children. Modabber said that Jones had been paid $18 million since Jackson’s death and that “the way Mr. Jones got paid did not change.” The film and the Cirque shows, he said, were deals independent of the past contracts Jones had with Jackson.

Modabber added: “Mr. Jones’ work ended 20 years ago. He wasn’t given more in the new deal.”

At times, Jones, 84, who wore a dark, pin-striped suit and sat in a wheel chair during the proceedings, would shake his head and scoff during the defense’s closing argument.

He produced three albums with Jackson: “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad.” He filed the lawsuit in 2013, four years after the singer died.

More Music

  • Beck House

    Beck Lists Updated Vintage Traditional in Los Feliz (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mononymically known indie music iconoclast Beck, who took home his sixth and seventh Grammys earlier this year for his 13th studio album (“Colors”), has put one of the three homes he and wife Marisa Ribisi own along the same, gated street in a coveted neighborhood of L.A.’s Los Feliz area for $2.45 million. The couple [...]

  • Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson has signed with Arista, sources tell Variety. While the singer was formerly linked with Epic Records in 2017, he is signed directly to Simon Cowell’s Syco label and will move within the Sony Music family to Arista. Tomlinson teased a new single on Feb. 2, posting on Twitter, “Just heard the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett's Bail Set at $100,000, Must Surrender Passport

    UPDATED: A Chicago judge set a $100,000 bond for Jussie Smollett on Thursday, as the “Empire” actor made his first court appearance. Smollett faces one felony count of filing a false police report. Police allege that Smollett staged a Jan. 29 attack, telling detectives that he was accosted by two men who used racial and [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Two More Women

    Two women accused R. Kelly of sexual misconduct at a press conference held by attorney Gloria Allred in New York on Thursday. The two women, Latresa Scaff, 40, and Rochelle Washington, 39, have not previously gone public with their claims. They say the incident happened in 1995 when they were 16 and 15 years old, [...]

  • Amy Winehouse

    Amy Winehouse Hologram Tour Canceled Over 'Challenges and Sensitivities'

    Amy Winehouse will not be “Back to Black” in a holographic live tour after all. The late British singer, who died in 2011, was to be featured in a stage show slated to launch near the end of 2019. But the producer of the show, BASE Hologram, has indefinitely postponed plans for the Winehouse show, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content