Producers are often viewed by the public as greedy opportunists who do little more than mooch off their artists, who are perceived as being ones who do the “real work.” But Quincy Jones, who produced some of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, is now saying he was cheated out of millions of dollars he says the pop star’s estate owes him.
This is coming from a man who has already made millions off music and videos created by the music icon. Attorneys for Jackson’s estate tried to paint Jones as just another money grabber out for all he can get, but Jones and his attorneys painted a different picture. They accused the Jackson estate of deliberately misinterpreting the language of the contracts to avoid paying Jones his share of the profits.
Despite all the finger pointing over who’s greedier, Jones says the lawsuit (which claimed $30 million in damages) isn’t about the money – it’s about the recognition. He alleged he worked hard to make Jackson’s music the best it could be, and while producers often take the fall when things go badly, artists get all the credit when things go well.
According to the lawsuit, Jones was allegedly owed royalties from “This Is It,” the 2009 concert film that was released shortly after Jackson’s death, and two Cirque du Soleil shows that included Jackson’s songs. The complaint alleges the documentary film and the two shows re-edited the songs in order to avoid paying Jones his royalties, but that he maintains all rights to re-mixing the songs he initially produced.
The complaint initially sued for $10 million in damages, but after recalculating the amount of money the Jackson estate made from the documentary and the two shows, Jones and his attorneys raised their claims to $30 million.
Much of the dispute involved defining various terms included in the contracts that were signed by Jackson and Jones decades ago. While Jones maintains that “This Is It” and the Cirque du Soleil shows qualify as a “video show,” Jackson’s estate said the term was meant only to apply to music videos – not feature films or Cirque du Soleil shows.
The jury agreed with Jones regarding “This Is It,” but sided with Jackson’s estate when it came to the Cirque du Soleil shows.
Other definitions brought up during the course of the trial included terms like “record,” which the jury refused to try to redefine. Despite the complicated legal language at the center of the dispute, the jury said deliberation (which took less than three days) was fairly smooth and straight-forward.
The award Jones received from the jury was closer to his original claim: $9.4 million. Although it’s less than a third of what he had been asking for, Jones said he was still grateful for the recognition he, and other producers, received as a result of the jury siding with him on matters most important to the issue at hand. He said he viewed the award as a victory for the rights of all artists, not just himself.
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