Sony and Jackson Estate not off the hook in fake songs case

Share Button

The California Supreme Court today granted review of an ongoing lawsuit centred around the alleged forgery of three songs attributed to pop superstar Michael Jackson, and the commercial exploitation of an album containing those songs.

Earlier this year, on February 18, 2020, plaintiff Vera Serova petitioned the Supreme Court for a second time after the Court of Appeal ruled that Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson should be allowed to sell fake songs as authentic Jackson material. The appeal court ruled that attributing the songs on the Michael album to Jackson was ‘noncommercial artistic free speech,’ and was therefore protected by the First Amendment.

But today the Supreme Court agreed with Serova that such a ruling is legally problematic. This means that Sony and the Jackson Estate remain defendants in the case, and will have to argue before the Supreme Court for their right to sell the songs – provided to Sony and the Estate in 2010 by Jackson’s longtime friend Eddie Cascio – even if they are fake.

The parties will submit written arguments over the next couple of months. Oral arguments will follow several months later, possibly in 2021.

If the Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeal’s decision, Sony and the Estate will remain defendants in the case and will have to proceed with their defence in the trial court. If the Supreme Court agrees with the Court of Appeal, Sony and the Jackson Estate will be dismissed once and for all.

In any event, the fraud component of the lawsuit will proceed against the original producers of the songs – alleged forgers Eddie Cascio and James Porte – and their company Angelikson Productions.

Once the case arrives back in the trial court, Serova will have the option to amend her complaint. This includes adding new defendants, such as Jason Malachi, who has been mentioned in connection to the vocals on the Cascio tracks since before the songs were released in 2010.

Serova revealed that in 2018, Malachi’s lawyer Alan Tilles reached out to both the Jackson Estate and her lawyers, confirming Malachi’s involvement. Tilles proposed a meeting with both sets of lawyers under the notion that Malachi wanted to help settle the case.

“He did not say how exactly Malachi was involved,” said Serova, revealing that Tilles described Malachi’s involvement as “complicated.”

However, shortly after proposing the meeting, Tilles had an about face, cancelled the meeting, and cut communication.

Stay tuned for further updates on the Serova vs Sony Music, Jackson Estate, Cascio, Porte et al case. I will provide more information as the case progresses.

You can also listen to the trailer for my upcoming podcast series, called Faking Michael, about these songs and this case. A release date for the podcast has not yet been set, but you can subscribe to have episodes delivered when they become available.

The trailer for Faking Michael is live on Apple PodcastsSpotify and YouTube.

Damien Shields is the author of the book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault examining the King of Pop’s creative process, and the producer of the podcast The Genesis of Thriller which takes you inside the recording studio as Jackson and his team create the biggest selling album in music history.


Share Button