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Music

Michael Jackson estate owes producer Quincy Jones $9.4 million, says jury

Producer Quincy Jones helped launch Michael Jackson to fame. Now a legal battle over royalties from re-edited songs has resulted in a hefty payout from the Jackson estate - but is much less than Jones was asking for.

Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones in 1984 (Imago/ZUMA Press)

Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones in 1984

In legal contracts, the devil is often in the detail - and the details can sometimes cost millions, as in Quincy Jones' lawsuit against the Michael Jackson estate.

A Los Angeles jury on Wednesday awarded the producer $9.4 million in royalties and production fees from "Billie Jean," "Thriller," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and more of the late superstar's greatest hits. Jones had sought $30 million, while the Jackson estate had contended that Jones was owed only $392,000.

"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."

Read: EU approves Sony purchase of Michael Jackson's music archive

The lawsuit, initially filed four years ago, sought royalties for re-edited versions of songs Quincy had produced which were used in the 2009 documentary "This Is It" as well as in two Cirque du Soleil circus shows.

While the Jackson estate maintained that Jones was only due licensing fees, Jones said he was entitled to a share of the overall receipts taken in by the film and shows, referring to contracts from 1978 and 1985.

Estate attorney Howard Weitzman pointed out that Jones had already made a significant amount of money when Jackson died in 2009. With sales exploding in the two years after the death, Jones took in $8 million from his share, compared to $3 million per year in the two previous years.

Weitzman promised to appeal the verdict.

Quincy Jones, now 84, was behind some of Michael Jackson's most successful recordings, including "Thriller" (1982) that remains the top-selling album of all time.

kbm/eg (AP, AFP)

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