Quincy Jones has prevailed in a case he launched nearly four years ago against MJJ Productions, the record label founded by Michael Jackson, and Sony Music, over the "disguising" of royalties and breach of his contracts with Michael Jackson. In yesterday's decision, a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court awarded Jones $9.4 million.
Jones' lawsuit charged that MJJ Productions, now administered by Jackson's estate, and Sony Music 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' complaint also accused Jackson's estate of "disguising" royalties made from the various productions, films and albums by classifying them as profits, which prevented Jones' royalties from being accurately calculated. Jones asked for $30.3 million; the estate countered that Jones was owed less than $400,000 due to accounting errors on their part.
Jones first met Jackson while working on The Wiz, the highly regarded adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, in 1978. The pair "were excited to work together," according to Jones' initial complaint in the case. They would go on to create Jackson's albums Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad -- the latter two became some of the highest-selling records of all time.
Jackson's estate "intends to pursue post-trial motions and appeal the verdict which we believe was erroneous," Howard Weitzman, the defending attorney in the case, wrote in an email to NPR.
"The jury worked very hard, listened to all of evidence, and weighed the facts of the case carefully. We are very pleased with the decision," said Robert Allen, counsel for Quincy Jones in a statement provided to NPR.
In testimony last week, defending attorney Howard Weitzman asked Jones whether he realized that he was effectively suing his late friiend. "I'm not suing Michael," Jones replied, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm suing y'all."