Home Music New Michael Jackson Album May Pose Legal Problems

The newly discovered Michael Jackson album I told you about –exclusively–yesterday may pose some legal problems.

The album was recorded by Michael in the fall of 2007 with Eddie Cascio at his home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. No one knew about it until earlier this year. Cascio, 28, is the second oldest son of longtime Jackson friends Dominick and Connie Cascio, Michael’s surrogate family.

Yesterday I wondered in this space if Michael’s recordings with Cascio would be covered by his estate’s recent $200 million deal with Sony. I thought maybe not, since no one knew about the tracks at the time of the deal.

But things could get sticky between the Jackson estate and Cascio. I am told that Cascio has engaged a top music entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, Don Passman. And sources do say that Cascio is “covered,” whatever that means. There’s no word on whether Jackson–who used to put his “M” signature on anything in front of him–signed a piece of paper with Cascio.

There will be some tough questioning by the estate over who wrote the songs Cascio recorded, and whether Michael was their author or co-author. I’m told that may be “covered” as well by copyright registrations.

Indeed, two days after Jackson died–on June 27, 2009–Cascio filed a copyright claim along with Michael Jackson and another songwriter for something called “MJ Songbook.” The filing is just for lyrics. An earlier filing. from March 2008, is labeled “JPEC Collection.” The song titles in each collection are not specified in the Library of Congress’s database, but it’s possible that Cascio updated his 2008 filing after Jackson died to reflect the superstar’s contribution to  material Cascio had already written–and wisely registered.

What everyone who’s heard the tracks agrees on is that Michael Jackson’s vocals sound great. At the time, Jackson was getting good sleep, and lots of Italian homecooking from the Cascios, who are restaurant owners. It was probably the best time Jackson had had since his November 2003 arrest.

Meanwhile, executor John McClain–who’s had health problems is going through some 60 other unreleased tracks, selecting what he thinks are the best ones for a Jackson album to be released this fall by Sony.

McClain is not considered a Clive Davis, really, in the business. But he helped Janet Jackson, whom he grew up with, start her career at A&M Records. And he briefly co-managed Michael in the early Nineties with Trudy Green. McClain, unlike Jackson intimates Frank DiLeo and John Branca, has so far not heard the Cascio tapes, I am told.

“He’s resisting it,” says a source, while he’s busy sorting through those 60 tracks.

20 replies to this post
  1. Sony are only doing what any sensible producer is doing and that is checking that all songs are authentic and what producer, songwriter etc is to be credited against the songs and the Cascio family are just ensuring they have the proof that these are indeed Michaels. It is not Sony that is causing the problems so fans need to stop trying to fit pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into their own puzzles, it is the family who once again are trying to get dollars off of anything Michael, they always did and now he is not here to tell them to keep out of his business they treat it like a free for all!
    Branca has done an amazing job of ensuring that creditable ventures have been secured in Michaels name, that his debts will be paid off and then the Trust he set up will be secured. In all honesty with the half backed ideas the family have so far come up with, and not even fulfilled (what happened to the tribute concert Jermaine?) most of the money would have gone into their pockets and not the childrens Trust!!

  2. I AGREE. JOHN BRANCA WILL JUST CARRY ON AS BEFORE. NOTHING WILL CHANGE. CASCIO SHOULD NOT GIVE THE SONGS TO SONY. RELEASE THEM YOURSELF. IF YOU AND MJ RECORDED THEM WITHOUT SONY BEING INVOLVED AND YOU HAVE COPYRIGHTS TO THEM DO TT. THE FANS WILL BUY THEM NO MATTER WHO RELEASES THEM. THEY SHOULD BELONG TO YOU AND TO MICHAEL, PERIOD. SONY WASNOT INVOLVED AND SO GETS NOTHING.

  3. Sorry but most of Michaels fans WILL buy Michaels records whether it is from Sony or not. When was Michael ever about hate and revenge? Michaels family will benefit and the messages he was trying to get to the world in the TII concertswill continue to be heard by a new generation.

  4. the fans will buy anything MJ that is NOT from $ony, whether it’s any good or not, and THAT will be $ony’s reward. Branca and McClain will get 10% of ZERO.

  5. To change the subject for a minute, what is this I hear about some guy who went on the show Extra and said that he was Michael’s lover. He suppose to have work for Dr. Klien. Have any of you heard about this?

  6. Hi SIMBA –

    YOUR QUESTION: BTW what happens if John McClain is unable to carry on as co-executor to the estate?

    ANSWER: Most likely nothing.

    Mr. Jackson’s Will directs: “In the event of any of their deaths, resignations, inability, failure or refusal to serve or continue to serve as co-Executor, the other shall serve and no replacement need be named. The co-Executors serving at any time after my death may name one or more replacements to serve in the event that none of the three named individuals is willing or able to serve at any time.”

    Simply put, if Mr. McClain is unable to fulfill his responsibilities, Mr. Branca will carry on as Executor.

    Be well.

  7. No problem at all. That mean that MJ estate can sell this ALBUM for another 100 millions (cos it is last songs ever recorded by MJ )

  8. Oh, whaddaya know. You said the same thing in ’07 –

    “Thriller 25″ [2008] will be issued by Sony because it’s part of that catalog. But Jackson has no recording contract and, frankly, no interest from record companies.”

  9. Eddie Cascio should be covered because Michael’s contractual obligations with Sony were fulfilled in 2005 and he was free from them, so whatever he made after that should NOT belong to Sony. Why do you think he recorded it outside of Sony? That is also why Tommy Mottola engineered the trial in ’05 – so that no other record company would want to sign Michael up after that. That’s why Cascio did not make the record in ’07.

    But I wouldn’t put it past Branca and McClain to try and sell Michael out to Sony once again over this. Cascio is going to need himself one mighty fine lawyer. I truly hope he wins – Michael will be thumbing his nose at Sony from heaven.

  10. So has Eddie Cascio been credited with writing a song before this album, or is this warm surrogate family trying to rip off MJ, just like all the rest?

    BTW what happens if John McClain is unable to carry on as co-executor to the estate?

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