On Wednesday, a jury awarded Quincy Jones $9.4 million in his lawsuit against Michael Jackson’s estate, following the two weeks trial.
Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson worked together for several years and produced three of Jackson’s best selling albums. The Michael Jackson estate is planning to appeal the verdict.
Failing on Quincy’s favor
Legendary producer Quincy Jones prevailed in a case he launched nearly four years ago against MJJ Productions. Over the disguising of royalties and breach of his contracts with Michael Jackson.
Jones’ lawsuit charged that MJJ Productions began to capitalize on Jackson’s work after his death, reissuing music that was remixed or edited without Jones’ approval. According to Jones’ contracts with Jackson and Sony Music, which go back to 1978, Jones would have first crack at this type of work.
The work that MJJ productions and Sony Music released after Jackson’s death included a 2012 re-release of ‘Bad’, the concert film ‘This Is It’ and its accompanying soundtrack album and two Cirque du Soleil productions.
Jones asked for $30.3 million; the estate countered that Jones was owed less than $400,000 due to accounting errors on their part.
Jurors found that the Grammy Award-winning music producer was entitled to royalties for the use of the singer’s recordings that the plaintiff helped produce and which was later used in the film “This is It” and other projects.
MJJ Productions is the record label founded by Michael Jackson and Sony which is now administered by Jackson’s estate. Jones addressed the situation in a statement released on Wednesday.
“As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s creation is of paramount importance,” he said.
The producer also highlighted that the legal situation was never about Michael, but rather the conduction of the late singer’s estate. “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.
Planning to appeal
Lawyer Zia Modabber, who argued on behalf of MJJ Productions, said Jones never owned Jackson’s master recordings. “These are Michael Jackson’s masters, he owns them,” Moddaber told the jury. “This is a grab for money that Mr. Jones isn’t entitled to.”
Lawyer Howard Weitzman, also representing MJJ Productions, said the hundreds of millions of dollars the Jackson estate executors have accumulated since the singer’s death have benefited the entertainer’s three children; his mother, Katherine Jackson; and various charities.
The defense attorneys pointed out that Jackson’s death in 2009 has already been lucrative for Jones, who made $8 million from his share of their works in the two years after the singer’s death, versus $3 million in the two years previous.
“Any amount above and beyond what is called for in his contracts is too much and unfair to Michael’s heirs,” the lawyers said. The producer worked with Jackson on the three-album run widely considered the performer’s prime: ‘Off the Wall,’ ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad.’
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.
Quincy Jones’ career spans six decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, and 28 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. Jones came to prominence in the 1950s as a jazz arranger and conductor, before moving on to work prolifically in pop music and film scores.
In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, their “The Eyes of Love” for the Universal Pictures film ‘Banning’.
That same year, Jones was the first African American to be nominated twice within the same year for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, as he was also nominated for his work on the film ‘In Cold Blood’. In 1971, Jones was the first African American to be named as the musical director and conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony.
In 1995, he was the first African American to receive the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the African American who has been nominated for the most Oscars; each has received seven nominations.
Jones was the producer, with Michael Jackson, of Jackson’s albums ‘Off the Wall’ (1979), ‘Thriller’ (1982), and ‘Bad’ (1987), as well as the producer and conductor of the 1985 charity song ‘We Are the World’, which raised funds for victims of destitution in Ethiopia.
In 2013, Jones was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as the winner, alongside Lou Adler, of the Ahmet Ertegun Award. Among his awards, Jones was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century.