Supreme Court petitioned in fake Michael Jackson songs case while fans launch annual campaign to remove them from 2010 album

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A teenager walks into a record store before Christmas 2018 and sees what he believes is the perfect gift for his mom (who already owns three Michael Jackson albums): an album whose cover shows images of Michael Jackson’s face next to the word “Michael” and on the flip side states “This album contains 9 previously unreleased vocal tracks performed by Michael Jackson.” He buys the album. At the time, the teenager is not aware that three of the album songs are sung by an impersonator, or that there is any controversy as to whether Jackson actually sang the vocals on all of the album’s songs.

While the teenager is in the record store, his mom is at a supermarket buying peaches with an “organic” label affixed to them. Mom does not know there is a dispute between the two biggest peach growers in California over the labeling of these peaches as organic. However, mom is led to believe by the label that they are in fact “organic”. In actuality, someone in the supply chain stuck “organic” labels on peaches that were not grown organically.

When it is uncovered that three of the album songs are not sung by Michael Jackson, or revealed that the peaches are not organic, the teenager and his mother should be able to bring suits against the music distributor and the supermarket respectively because, as consumers protected by the CLRA, as far as they were concerned, the statements on the album cover and peach label were facts.

Quoted above are the opening three paragraphs from a recently-filed court document. The document forms part of a petition that asks the Supreme Court of California to take the case of Serova vs Sony Music Entertainment and the Estate of Michael Jackson regarding the ongoing commercial sale of three allegedly-forged songs which have been falsely attributed to the late pop superstar.

A few days ago, on November 7, 2018, plaintiff Vera Serova and her legal team officially completed the process of petitioning the Supreme Court to intervene in this case. The Supreme Court is Serova’s only remaining avenue in her legal pursuit to hold Sony Music and the Jackson Estate accountable for their part in the release of three allegedly-fake songs on the Michael album in 2010. Such an intervention is now necessary because the Court of Appeals recently reversed the Superior Court’s original decision that Sony and the Jackson Estate should face the music regarding their commercial representations of forged art as being genuine.

A little bit of backstory, if you’re hearing about this for the first time…

California-based consumer Vera Serova contends in her class action lawsuit that millions of consumers have been defrauded since the Jackson Estate and Sony Music Entertainment released the Michael album, including three songs—“Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster”—with fake vocals sung by a Jackson soundalike.

The three songs, known as the ‘Cascio tracks’, were sold to Sony and the Jackson Estate in mid-2010 by music producers James Porte and Eddie Cascio (hence ‘Cascio tracks’) as part of a collection of twelve songs they claim Jackson recorded in their basement in 2007. Serova’s lawsuit contends Jackson did no such thing, instead claiming that Porte and Cascio masterminded the most high-profile art forgery in the history of the music business.

Originally filed in June 2014, the lawsuit alleges that Sony and the Jackson Estate engaged in commercial speech when they claimed in a television commercial and in a written product description on the CD cover that the songs on the album—which included the three forged songs—were sung by Michael Jackson. Serova filed claims against the companies under the Unfair Competition Law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

For the purposes of legal arguments Sony and the Jackson Estate conceded in court, under their admitted facts, that the songs may in fact be forged – sung not by Michael Jackson, but by an impostor. Despite this, Sony and the Estate currently find themselves dismissed from the case, with the Court of Appeals ruling that forged art can be sold as authentic as long as the seller claims they did not know it was fake and failed to properly authenticate it. Unbelievable, right? Well, believe it!

Click here for a complete overview of Sony and the Estate’s concessions that Jackson may not have sung the vocals, and of their dismissal from the case.

Serova’s petition to the Supreme Court argues that the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that knowledge is required for speech to be commercial was not limited to the facts of this case; that their decision has erased the legal difference between facts and opinions; that the publisher of a falsely attributed creative work should be liable; and that if the current decision from the Court of Appeals stands, it sets a dangerous precedent that effectively immunises the sale of art forgeries, allowing the seller to claim it is real even if it is fake and for there to be absolutely no consequences for doing so.

Serova is asking that the Supreme Court step in, rehear the case, and give her another opportunity to demonstrate why Sony and the Jackson Estate should be held accountable for their decision to commercially release and sell a falsely advertised fraudulent product from which they continue to profit.

Stay tuned for further updates on Serova’s Supreme Court of California petition.

Jackson fans launch campaign to have fake songs removed from 2010 album

#RemoveCascioTracksNow-6

Meanwhile, for a second consecutive year Michael Jackson fans around the world are engaged in the #RemoveCascioTracksNOW campaign. Aimed at executives and lawyers for Sony Music and the Jackson Estate, the campaign demands that the three allegedly-fake songs at the centre of Serova’s lawsuit be officially removed from the Michael album and Jackson’s discography, effective immediately.

Initiated in November of 2017 by the world’s biggest Michael Jackson podcast, The MJCast, the campaign encourages MJ fans around the world to contact the likes of John Branca and John McClain (co-executors of the Jackson Estate), Howard Weitzman (attorney for the Estate), Rob Stringer (chief of Sony), Sylvia Rhone (chief of Epic Records), and Zia Modabber (attorney for Sony) to express their feelings regarding the ongoing sale of the Cascio tracks, and to demand they be taken off the market and disassociated from Michael Jackson.

The timing of the campaign coincides with two landmark moments in the Cascio tracks saga. The launch of the campaign in early November marks the anniversary of the stream of “Breaking News” on michaeljackson.com, which launched on November 8, 2010 and kickstarted the last eight years of controversy over the matter. The campaign will run until December 14, which is the date that the Michael album was commercially released worldwide in 2010.

In an email to Sony and the Jackson Estate, co-founder and host of The MJCast, Jamon Bull, wrote:

Any member of Michael’s family that has spoken out about this issue has said the songs are fake—including some of his [Estate’s] beneficiaries. Most of Michael’s studio collaborators have confirmed the same […as have] thousands upon thousands of his fans, yet the songs remain for sale.

It concerns me greatly that Sony and Michael’s estate executors continue to defend the people who are responsible for this fraud, instead of defending Michael’s own beneficiaries and Michael’s artistic legacy itself,” adds Bull. “This is an affront to what Michael stood for as an artist. He publicly stated he wanted to immortalise himself through his work. Michael deserves much better than this.

Another fan, in a publicly shared email found here, wrote:

I was shocked and saddened when I found compelling evidence indicating that Michael Jackson, a worldwide artistic and humanitarian icon, in his death, was being used as a commercial commodity to be exploited [and] that his fans, grieving family, the general public and Michael himself were being taken advantage of through the release of these inauthentic materials.

I cannot view Sony or the Michael Jackson Estate as fair, trustworthy or ethical. The question is, that if Sony is willing to sell just one unethical, illegitimate, poorly made product, could there be other products of yours with these attributes that you are also willing to sell? This is an important issue of consumer confidence and corporate ethics.

I ask that you please remove these 3 songs from Michael Jackson’s catalogue now, not because there is a financial incentive to do so, and with these actions apparently showing great contempt for consumers, but because it’s insulting, and frankly a disgusting affront, to Michael Jackson, his legacy, his grieving family and supporters worldwide. Removing these 3 songs is simply the right thing to do.

Please do the right thing.

A statement jointly shared by Jamon Bull of The MJCast via their website, and by myself on behalf of the A Truth Untold team via our Twitter account, says:

The time has come to once again raise our voice as one and remind Sony Music and the Estate that we will not stand for such disrespect and vandalism of Michael Jackson’s artistic legacy. Demand change. Demand they #RemoveCascioTracksNOW. We will continue our call to action through December 14th—the eight year anniversary of the Michael album’s release—at which time we will request a formal response from Sony and the Estate. If sending an email, include the following recipients:

Sony Music CEO
Rob Stringer (rob.stringer@sonymusic.com)

Michael Jackson Estate Co-Executors
John Branca (johnb@ziffrenlaw.com)
John McClain (jmcclain2004@aol.com)

Michael Jackson Estate & Sony Music Attorneys
Howard Weitzman (hweitzman@kwikalaw.com)
Zia Modabber (zia.modabber@kattenlaw.com)

If an official response from Sony or the Jackson Estate is obtained by either party it will be published as an update.

Also, in the coming months I will be releasing FAKING MICHAEL—an investigative true-crime podcast series chronicling my eight-year quest for the truth about the Cascio tracks and the Michael album. The series will take you on my personal journey to find out once and for all where the songs truly came from, and how they ended up on an official Michael Jackson album.

Throughout the course of the podcast series I will detail the findings of my investigation, drawing on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with many of those closest to the controversy, thousands of pages of correspondence and official records, and never-before-heard evidence that has lead to shocking breakthrough discoveries. In doing so, I will endeavour to put the countless of pieces of this puzzle into place, and reveal the complete picture for the very first time.

A trailer for FAKING MICHAEL is live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube.

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE NOW:


Damien Shields is the author of Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault—a book about the anatomy of the King of Pop’s craftsmanship—available now in both physical and digital editionvia Amazon and iBooks.

Michael Jackson-Song & Stories From The Vault (promo image)

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