Jury: Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones

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Jury: Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones


Michael Jackson, left, holds eight awards as he poses with Quincy Jones at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 1984. On Wednesday, a jury found that Jackson’s estate owes Jones 9.4 million dollar in royalties and production fees from “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and other hits. [AP/YONHAP]

LOS ANGELES - A jury on Wednesday found that Michael Jackson’s estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million in royalties and production fees from “Billie Jean,’’ “Thriller’’ and more of the superstar’s biggest hits.

The award from a Los Angeles Superior Court jury fell short of the $30 million the legendary producer sought in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago, but well above the approximately $392,000 the Jackson estate contended Jones was owed.

The jury of 10 women and two men had been deliberating since Monday.

“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,’’ Jones wrote in a statement. “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.’’

Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said he and his team were surprised by the verdict and would appeal it.

Weitzman and co-counsel Zia Modabber wrote in a statement that Jones was seeking money that wasn’t owed to him.

“Any amount above and beyond what is called for in his contracts is too much and unfair to Michael’s heirs,’’ the lawyers said. “Although Mr. Jones is portraying this is a victory for artists’ rights, the real artist is Michael Jackson and it is his money Mr. Jones is seeking.’’

Jones claimed in the lawsuit that Jackson’s estate and Sony Music Entertainment owed him for music he had produced that was used in the concert film “This Is It’’ and two Cirque du Soleil shows that used Jackson’s songs.

The lawsuit said the entities had improperly re-edited the songs to deprive Jones of royalties and production fees, and that he had a contractual right to take first crack at any re-edit or remix.

The trial centered on the definitions of terms in the two contracts Jackson and Jones signed in 1978 and 1985.

Under the deals, for example, Jones is entitled to a share of net receipts from a “videoshow’’ of the songs. The Jackson attorneys argued that the term was meant to apply to music videos and not feature films.

Jury foreman Duy Nguyen, 28, said the contracts were the strongest pieces of evidence the jury considered, and said hearing Jones’ testimony was also helpful.

Jones took the stand during the trial, and was asked by Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman whether he realized he was essentially suing Jackson himself.

Jones angrily disagreed.

“I’m not suing Michael,’’ he said. “I’m suing you all.’’ AP
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