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Royalties at issue in Michael Jackson contract dispute

Many people in California are fans of the late musician Michael Jackson, who during his lifetime earned the moniker "king of pop." However, even after his death, ongoing disputes remain regarding the interpretation of contracts Jackson entered into during his lifetime.

Closing arguments were recently made in a trial involving the estate of the late music star, Michael Jackson, and music producer, Quincy Jones. Jones argues that he did not receive $30 million in royalties and licensing fees he was owed. At issue in this case is music that Jones produced that was later used in a film titled "This Is It," along with Cirque du Soleil performances made after Jackson passed away. The case was heard in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Both the attorney for Jackson's estate and Jones' attorney claimed the other party was using "word games" in their opposing interpretations of the terms of the contract. Jones' attorney stated that his client was wrongly left out of the contracts Jackson's estate had for the film and shows at issue. They claim that a prior contract Jones and Jackson entered into would have deemed those reproductions "records," and that Jones should have been compensated for them.

Attorneys for Jackson's estate do admit that they owe Jones between $2 million and $3 million, but they claim that the compensation Jones is seeking is above what he is owed. They state that there were no changes to the way Jones was compensated, and that the film and shows at issue were not connected to the previous dealings between Jones and Jackson.

This case serves as a reminder that when disputes arise over the interpretation of a contract, it could lead to litigation. It is important that any contract dispute be resolved in a fair and appropriate manner, so that each party to the contract receives what they are owed. A contract law attorney can provide more information on such matters.

Source: Variety, "Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson's Estate Duel Over Contract Wording in Royalties Trial," Ricardo Lopez, July 24, 2017

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