It’s a huge and surprising victory for Michael Jackson’s estate as an appeals court has thrown out a $6.9 million ruling for producer Quincy Jones.
Q– one of the most famous producers in history– was the man who made “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad” with Michael, his most famous and best selling albums.
After Michael died, the albums started selling well again, were repurposed into anniversary editions, and were part of the Jackson estate’s $200 million deal with Sony Music. Quincy’s assertion was that he was owed money– $30 million in royalties and other income derived from the “This Is It” concert film, two Cirque du Soleil shows and other revenue streams that followed Jackson’s death in 2009. After a two-week jury trial, the jurors awarded Jones $9.4 million.
But now in a stunning reversal of fortune, the appeals court went against Jones and for Jackson.
“The language of section 4(a) cannot be tortured to mean that Jones’s maximum royalty rate increased proportionally if Jackson’s maximum royalty rate increased,” wrote Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst. “The only compensation Jones was entitled to receive was royalties from record sales on remixes, and the evidence indicates he received them,” Ashmann-Gerst wrote. “If he wanted remixing fees, he had to negotiate them in separate agreements.”
Quincy still receives $2.6 million for unpaid license fees from “This Is It,” plus other fees and interest.
Howard Weitzman, who represents the Jackson estate said, “Quincy Jones was the last person we thought would try to take advantage of Michael Jackson by filing a lawsuit three years after he died asking for tens of millions of dollars he wasn’t entitled to,” Weitzman said. “We knew the verdict was wrong when we heard it, and the court of appeal has completely vindicated us. From the beginning this was an attempt to take advantage of Michael knowing he wasn’t here to defend himself.”
Quincy Jones’s lawyer, Kirk Dillman, responded: “While we disagree with portions of the Court’s decision and are evaluating our options going forward, we are pleased that the Court affirmed the jury’s determination that MJJP failed to pay Quincy Jones more than $2.5M that it owed him.”
The court wrote: “Jones has not established a miscarriage of justice requiring reversal [of the original deal].” They added:
And do remember, this is pocket change for everyone involved. No one is suffering, and life goes on.