Michael Jackson Estate and Sony Music Off the Hook

Michael Jackson

Judges have ruled a 2014 class action lawsuit seeking damages for alleged faked songs cannot target the label or the Jackson estate.

Last week, various reports emerged that lawyers for Sony Music Entertainment had admitted during a court hearing that three tracks from Michael Jackson’s posthumous 2010 album Michael were recorded by an impersonator. The hearing was part of a class action suit brought against Sony and the Jackson estate in 2014 by a fan named Vera Serova, who alleged that the songs “Breaking News,” “Monster,” and “Keep Your Head Up” were not recorded by Jackson. A subsequent statement from representatives for the Sony and the estate shortly thereafter denied those reports.

Facing rumors that the songs were fakes before the album was even released, both Sony and the estate hired “forensic musicologists” as well as former producers and engineers who had worked with Jackson, who verified the authenticity of the songs in November 2010. The album was then released in December 2010, containing the allegedly “faked” songs.

Today, three appeals court judges have ruled that Sony and the Jackson estate are exempt from the class action suit, according to court documents viewed by Pitchfork. The judges’ ruling states that because neither of those parties knew for certain whether or not the Jackson vocals were authentic, they cannot be held accountable under commercial speech and are protected under the First Amendment.

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