Inside Quincy Jones lawsuit: Partial Judgment Verdict explained

_9d12ea2e-74cb-11e6-b2a9-95c0be591517[1]In November 2016, the Judge ruled that Sony would be a non-participant in the trial on two causes of action in Quincy Jones’ lawsuit for breach of contracts. Although Sony was a defendant in the suit, it was not a party to the trial, which was focused only on Quincy Jones breach of contract claim against MJJ Productions Inc.  Sony is not named as a defendant on those counts but is named on a third count such “accounting”.  The “expert report opinion” already on the web represent the whole claims made to Sony and MJJP.

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Why a partial judgment verdict? Sony did not present yet the relevant documents and/or hired suitable experts to support and clarify the issues and damages of the “expert report”. That’s the reason why it could not be discussed during the judgment.  We would not be surprised if – at the end –  Sony will choose a way in the middle, settling the matter with a confidential agreement with Quincy Jones. 

Unlike  MJ Estate lawyers –  going to media announcing an appeal – Sony lives of these tricks and knows the game rules.  They have precise policies regarding auditing claims and we do not think they wish to be brought back to court for almost the same subject. 

See: (https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/sony-sued-musicians-union-us-violating-collective-agreement/)

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The first complaint is related to the 1978 breach of contract between MJJP (MJ estate entities) and the Quincy Jones production.

Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones met during the shooting of the movie “The Wiz” and they built a relationship and decided to work together. So their companies entered into an agreement dated as of November 1978. (See contract copy HERE:  1978jpg2pdf).  Jones to produce all of the master recordings to be embodied on Michael’s upcoming fifth studio album “Off The Wall” to be released by Sony (at the time still CBS). Under this contract,  Jones also produced all of the master recordings of Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album  “Thriller”. Furthermore, there is a restriction clause on re-editing and/or re-mixing the Masters that constituted an additional compensation to Jones under each of the album agreements. If MJJP wanted one or more of the Masters re-edited or remixed, MJJP would have had to pay Jones for such services at fair market rate, which would have included both an upfront payment and a so-called “backend,” consisting of a percentage of the receipts derived from the exploitation of the audio and/or audio-visual works embodying such re-edited and/or re-mixed Masters.

The Agreements also provided that:  

  •  MJJP had to pay to Jones royalties for the commercial exploitation of the Masters in records, including phonorecords;  
  • Sony to account directly to Jones under Jackson’s recording agreement with Sony for the royalties and MJJP account to Jones for such royalties if Sony does not do so;
  • Grant to Jones the right to approve Jones’ likeness and biographical material in connection with the exploitation of the Masters; and pay to Jones royalties for the commercial exploitation of the Masters in audiovisual works.

 

 

 

Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 have determined what is written above:

  • That’s Quincy Jones, has these agreements with the estate entities.
  • That’s the movie “This Is It”, the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: ONE”, the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour”,  The album “IMMORTAL” contain re-mixes or re-edits of the master recordings produced by Quincy Jones under the 1978 producer agreement. 
  • That Under the 1978 producer agreement, Quincy Jones has the right to the first opportunity to perform re-mixes or re-edits limited  only when Sony required the remix or re-edit of master recordings from “Off the Wall” or “Thriller”
  • That for the above projects, Quincy Jones did not waive the right to have the first opportunity to create remixes or re-edits of master recordings from “Thriller” and/or “Off the Wall”.
  • That MJJ Productions fail to provide Quincy Jones with the first opportunity to remix or re-edit master recordings from “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” under the 1978 producer agreement on any of in respect of the above-mentioned projects.

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  • That  Quincy Jones was harmed by MJJ Productions’ failure to give him the first opportunity to create remixes or re-edits under the 1978 producer agreement.
  • Questions 9, and 10 subjects moved on  Michael Jackson recording agreement date 1975 and the relevant amendment made in 1981  and the Jury have determined that the movie “This Is It”, the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour”, Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: ONE” cannot be considered records and for this reason Quincy Jones is not entitled to receive royalties based on his 1978 agreement by MJJP.

Questions 11 and 12 have determined:

  • That under the 1978 producer agreement, Quincy Jones is entitled to a share of money from the 2009 joint venture agreement between Michael Jackson and Sony in addition to monies previously paid to Quincy Jones.
  • That under the 1978 producer agreement, MJJ Productions failed to pay Quincy Jones a share of the money of the 2009 joint venture agreement between Michael Jackson and Sony in addition to monies previously paid to Quincy Jones.

Question 13 has determinate that under the 1978 producer agreement,  Quincy Jones is not entitled to a share of SoundExchange, foreign public performance income, and foreign income tax deductions, so question 14 was skipped.

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The second complaint concern the contract between MJJ (the new Michael Jackson company) and  Jones company  QJP dated as of December 1, 1985. (See contract copy HERE: 1985   )

Their incredibly successful partnership carried on producing all of the master recordings of Jackson’s seventh studio album  “Bad.

Michael Jackson entered into various amendments of his recording agreement with Epic Records, a subsidiary of Sony (known as CBS Records, Inc.), and the Recording Agreement, among other things, contains the “Producer Terms”.     While Sony partially complied with such Producer Terms in connection with the Masters produced by Jones, after Michael Jackson’s death, those in charge of his estate entities, began releasing new audio and audiovisual works without regard to the terms of either of the Agreements.

Question 15, 16, 17,18, 19, 20, 21  have determined as follows: 

  • That Quincy Jones and MJJ Productions entered into a 1985 producer agreement
  • That  the movie “This Is It”, the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: ONE”, the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour”,  the album “IMMORTAL” and the album “Bad 25th Anniversary Edition” contain re-mixes or re-edits of the master recordings produced by Quincy Jones under the 1985 producer agreement.
  • That under the 1985 producer agreement, Quincy Jones have the right to the first opportunity to perform re-mixes or re-edits limited to only those situations where Sony or MJJ Productions required the remix or re-edit of master recordings from “Bad”
  • That the projects listed above-contained re-mixes or re-edits, Sony or MJJ Productions required the remixing or re-editing of master recordings from “Bad.
  • That for the above projects, Quincy Jones did not waive the right to have the first opportunity to create remixes or re-edits of master recordings from “Bad”

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  • That MJJ Productions failed to provide Quincy Jones with the first opportunity to remix or re-edit master recordings from “Bad” under the 1985 producer agreement on any of the above projects.
  • that Quincy Jones’s was harmed by MJJ Productions’ failure to give him the first opportunity to create remixes or re-edits under the 1985 producer agreement.

Question 22 has determined that the movie “This Is It” is considered a video shows under 1985 producer agreement, but the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour” and the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: ONE” are NOT video shows (actually they are considered theatrical scenes) 

For the above reason the jury determined in question 23 that MJJ Productions failed to pay Quincy Jones for the video show the movie “This is it” but they do not have to pay him for the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour” and the Cirque live show “Michael Jackson: ONE”.

Question 24, 25, 26 and 27 have determined:

  • That under the 1985 producer agreement, Quincy Jones is entitled to a share of money from the 2009 joint venture agreement between Michael Jackson and Sony in addition to monies previously paid to Quincy Jones.
  • That under the 1985 producer agreement, Quincy Jones is entitled to a share of SoundExchange, foreign public performance income, and foreign income tax deductions.
  • That under the 1985 producer agreement, MJJ Productions fail to pay Quincy Jones a share of SoundExchange, foreign public performance income, and foreign income tax deductions.

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The jury award is the interesting part because many fans have not realized that “the expert report” opinion examined Quincy Jones claim’s for an average amount of 30 million is intended for both defendants. (MJJP and Sony).

Here below you can see the comparable damage requests for the first 2 causes of actions and relevant  Jury awards and the theoretical  “expert request” opinion:

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“It was never our practice to cheat … Mr. Jones, you’re creating a false impression.” as Mr. Branca said during one of his testimony when debate became heated, sound a little over the top. Come on! An accounting mistake of 10 million would create a false impression toward everyone! If the Estate doesn’t want the world to think they are a sort of cheaters the minimum would be to change the accounting TEAM.
Mr. Cool Branca. Yeah, be a good boy and….

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The third cause of action claims is “Accounting” and is Sony related. Here you can see the no comparable claims. 

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** Legal Challenges The common position on how labels compensate artists for digital downloads has been challenged through various litigations between labels and digital music service providers, such as iTunes. These are licenses subject to a 50-50 split of the proceeds between the label and the artist, rather than a sale by the label through regular retail channels. This license need be reclassified with the digital music distributors as a license rather than a sale, a shift that would significantly bump the 50 split of revenue received by the label after deducting the mechanical royalty license fee for the music on the sound recording.  In short, it is an open problem between music distributors.

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Then on August 2016,  another 11 million was added for amounts received by MJJP in connection with the film “This Is it.” It involves the “net receipts” derived from a series of calculation between the companies involved in the production.  The amount is theoretical because for the time being it could not be ascertained due to lack of documents.

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Aside all that’s happened in Courtroom,  I would like to remind everyone out there that Quincy Jones is considered one of the preeminent superstar producers in the music industry, with a reputation for producing the highest quality master recordings and some of the best-selling records in history. His career spans over six decades in the entertainment industry, a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, and 27 Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991.

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Quincy Jones had provided services as a producer, arranger, and musician for artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and many others. 

Michael Jackson’s career started in or about 1964 with the band “The Jackson Brothers,” which shortly after became known as “The Jackson 5.” The group has sold over 100 million albums and Michael Jackson as a “solo” artist was one of the most prominent recording artists of his generation, with a long track record of some of the best-selling records in history and the world’s greatest entertainer. Michael has influenced so many artists, some of whom are picking up on the grandeur and showmanship of his live performances. And still rocks!

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Quincy Jones expressed very well his sentiment about all this:

“As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s creation is of paramount importance. I, along with the team I assembled with Michael, took great care and purpose in creating these albums, and it has always given me a great sense of pride and comfort than three decades after they were originally recorded, these songs are still being played in every corner of the world. This lawsuit was never about Michael, it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created. Although this it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created. Although this judgment is not the full amount that I was seeking, I am very grateful that the jury decided in our favor in this matter. I view it not only as a victory for myself personally but for artists’ rights overall” 

Jones and Jackson proved to be a perfect partnership, starting with 1979’s Off the Wall. Michael gave a youthful pop vitality to Jones, who was known primarily as a producer and arranger of jazz and film soundtracks and Jones lent experience and gravitas to Jackson. And this is part of  MUSIC HISTORY.

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Sources:

  • DOCUMENTS OF SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, CENTRAL DISTRICT QUINCY JONES LAWSUIT.
  • http://www.internetmedialaw.com
  • Mark Halloran:  “The Musician’s Business and Legal Guide, Fifth Edition”   
  • Rolling stone magazine (various numbers)

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