Legendary producer Quincy Jones of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) was set to go to trial over royalties he says he’s owed from albums released after Michael Jackson’s death. A recent development means defendants Sony Music and MJJ Productions can no longer share a legal team. Until now, Sony and MJJ have shared counsel, but because this will pit the two against each other on at least one argument, Sony will have to retain separate legal counsel.
A judge gave Jones the green light to pursue damages claims related to payment from permanent digital downloads. The producer argues he was shorted because Sony was underpaying MJJ, a song company controlled by the late artist’s estate. Jackson’s biggest hits were re-edited, and Jones says MJJ breached his contract by allowing third parties to exploit the works without first offering Jones the opportunity to perform the remixes himself.
The issue boils down to whether Sony should have been treating those downloads as licenses instead of as sales—which would have given both Jackson’s company and Jones more money. Artists get half of net revenue from licenses, but only a 15% royalty on sales.