Quincy Jones Files Lawsuit Over Michael Jackson’s Music

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(Billboard Magazine, October 25th, 2013)  After years of built up frustration, Quincy Jones has decided to take his complaints to a more serious level. This past Friday, October 25, 2013, Quincy filed a complaint to Los Angeles Superior Court. In the complaint Quincy claimed that master recordings he had worked on with Michael Jackson have been tampered with and remixed without permission. He also claims that he had been left out of profit earnings from past royalties earned by Michael and Sony. He has complained about these matters for years but seems to have finally grown tired of not seeing any progress.

In 1978 and 1985 Quincy and Michael had entered in to a contract stating that Quincy would have the opportunity to re-edit or re-mix any of their master recordings before anyone else. The deal also stated that Quincy would receive additional compensation and producer credit if and when he edited these recordings. Later Michael had signed a recording agreement with a subsidiary of Sony stating that Quincy would be entitled to payments, credits, and approval of biographical material. After Michael’s death in 2009, the executors of Michael’s estate attempted to exploit the public’s appetite by releasing “This is it.”  Two years later Cirque du Soleil presented a traveling theatrical show in his honor. The movie and Cirque du Soleil both released soundtracks including re-edits of Michael’s songs. Quincy claims that both of these soundtracks were a breach of his contract with Michael.

The lawsuit states that Quincy also believes Michael and Sony had a secret agreement where their labels would share profits. Thus the defendants are charged with an effort to “divert” revenues to MJJ and “disguise” the revenues as “profits” instead of “royalties.”  Quincy is talking about $10 million in damages for breach of contract, the royalties that he never received, as well as a re-mixing fee that would have otherwise been charged.

The Michael Jackson Estate responded by saying it “was saddened to learn that Quincy Jones has filed a lawsuit seeking money from Michael’s estate. To the best of its knowledge, Mr. Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately 35 years for his work with Michael.”