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Fake Michael Jackson Songs Lawsuit Boosted by Support from Consumer Protection Groups

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A legal quest for justice over a posthumous Michael Jackson album including 3 allegedly-fake songs has received a serendipitous boost on the 10th anniversary of the album’s release.

On Friday, December 11, 2020, the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice filed an amicus curiae brief with the California Supreme Court in support of plaintiff Vera Serova’s ongoing class action consumer fraud lawsuit against Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson.

The powerfully-worded brief was co-signed by 8 additional consumer protection organisations. Click here to read it in full.

Serova’s lawsuit, filed in 2014, alleges that Sony and the Estate misled her and millions of consumers when they commercially released the Michael album on December 14, 2010 – exactly ten years ago today.

The lawsuit alleges that three songs on the album are forgeries sung by an impostor vocalist, and that Sony and the Estate falsely advertised those songs to consumers as authentic Jackson material.

The three songs at the centre of the lawsuit – Breaking News, Monster and Keep Your Head Up – were originally co-written and produced by Eddie Cascio and James Porte, who are co-defendants in the fraud component of the case.

The consumer protection organisations wrote in their joint filing on Friday that Serova’s is a “straightforward case of deceptive advertising.”

Yet the case has been in legal limbo for more than four years.

Back in 2016, Sony and the Estate filed an anti-SLAPP motion against Serova, claiming that her lawsuit was a ‘strategic lawsuit against public participation’ (SLAPP) intended to deny the billion-dollar corporations their purported constitutional right to sell fake songs as authentic Jackson material.

For the purposes of their legal arguments, Sony and the Estate conceded that Jackson was not the singer of the three songs in question. To be clear, this was not an outright admission that Jackson was not singing – after 6 years in court, that issue hasn’t even been addressed yet.

Rather, their concession was made in order to prevent Serova from presenting evidence that the songs are fakes. Under normal circumstances, Serova would have been required to demonstrate that her case wasn’t a shakedown, and that she could substantiate her claims with supporting evidence.

But Sony and the Estate said that it didn’t matter if they were fake, arguing that the law allows them to lie to consumers regardless.

Their argument centres around their assertion that the statements made as part of the album’s promotional material – including on the album cover and in a TV commercial – are not commercial in nature. Yes, they’re arguing that the speech in a commercial isn’t commercial speech.

“If we ripped people off and it’s noncommercial speech, they lose under the statutes,” said Sony lawyer Zia Modabber in court. “That is just the law.”

In August 2018, the corporations succeeded in their bid to be dismissed from the case. Serova fought back, petitioning the California Supreme Court to intervene, which they did. But when the case was sent back to the Appeals Court in January 2020, Sony and the Estate were yet again dismissed.

Shockingly, the Appeals Court ruled that Sony and the Estate should be allowed to lie to consumers by selling fake songs as authentic Jackson material. And so Serova petitioned the California Supreme Court a second time, seeking a review of the Appeals Court’s bizarre ruling.

As reported here in April, the Supreme Court found that the Appeals Court’s ruling was legally problematic and granted Serova’s petition for review.

In their filing on Friday, the consumer protection organisations supporting Serova’s case took aim at Sony and the Estate’s application of the anti-SLAPP statute, writing that it “does not provide a get-out-of-jail-free card to forgers.”

Under the stipulation governing this proceeding, Sony’s promotion of Michael plainly violates California’s statutes protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising. Sony marketed Michael as “a brand new album from the greatest artist of all time,” with “9 previously unreleased vocal tracks performed by Michael Jackson.” Because, as the parties have agreed for purposes of this appeal, three of the nine songs were not sung by Michael Jackson, Sony has made advertising statements that were untrue and misleading and has therefore violated California’s basic consumer protection laws.

Amicus curiae brief, Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice et al., December 11, 2020.

The anti-SLAPP statute is intended to protect David from Goliath – to shield the general public against the limitless funds and resources of wealthy corporations, and to prevent those corporations from intimidating the public into abandoning legal action against them.

The consumer protection organisations state in their filing that Sony and the Estate have misused the anti-SLAPP statute to achieve the exact opposite of its intended purpose:

What the present proceeding entails is the misuse of the anti-SLAPP statute by a well-funded corporation to try to silence individual consumer claims arising from what are conceded to be, for purposes of this appeal, the corporation’s misleading commercial statements. In other words, this action embodies precisely the reverse of what the anti-SLAPP statute is intended to accomplish.

The consumer protection organisations concluded their 47-page filing with the following:

The anti-SLAPP statute must not be misused to undermine California’s consumer protection laws. When Sony promoted Michael, it engaged in misleading or deceptive advertising. Sony has no free speech right to deceive consumers. Ms. Serova’s claim for misleading advertising is not a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” To the contrary: it is a straightforward deceptive advertising action brought to vindicate precisely the individual rights that both California’s consumer protection laws and its anti-SLAPP statute are designed to protect.

The California Attorney General’s Office has also stepped in, requesting an extension to file their own amicus brief in support of Serova.

This means that when the California Supreme Court hears Serova’s case sometime next year, she will not only have the support of at least 9 independent consumer protection organisations, but also the backing of the California state government.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has also joined the chorus of support behind Serova’s case, formally requesting an extension to file an amicus brief on December 14, 2020.

Stay tuned for further updates on the case. This website will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

You can also subscribe to the upcoming Faking Michael podcast series about this matter. A release date has not yet been set, but subscribers will have episodes delivered to them when they do become available.

The trailer for Faking Michael is available 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.
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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Retroarcademan

    December 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    2 years since the Faking Michael trailer was released. Im a patient man but… 🙂

  2. Robin

    December 14, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    I simply can’t wait for this podcast series, looking forward to the dissection and analysis of it all. Thank you for your continued hard work in getting the truth out there, in Michael’s name!!

  3. Shirley Alves

    December 15, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Fraud is fraud. I don’t care who is the fraudster. All I know is Michael Jackson himself would NEVER have gone along with this deception nor allow his Estate, his friends, his companies and his record company to deceive his beloved fans around the world and not be punished!!

    There is no magic in lies!

    Go Vera Serova!! 👍🏼👍🏼💖

    All music lovers and even artists themselves deserve HONESTY and a GUARANTEE that an album or song said to be of a certain artist REALLY IS by said artist!! Otherwise, the entire industry will suffer! All confidence in records labels and record execs will be lost! Credibility and product integrity is crucial!

    Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should ANYONE be allowed to deceive the public in this way!

    NO record label should be allowed to knowingly release fake songs!!

    Imagine if there were impersonator Elvis or Beatles songs released?!! No friggin way this would be permitted nor this case dismissed in court!!

    So sick of this abuse!
    When it comes to Michael Jackson, it seems to be rampant!! Especially repugnant and egregious is the fact that this was done to a still grieving fan base after Michael’s death. 💔

    We all need justice in this case!

  4. Ahsoka

    December 15, 2020 at 2:19 am

    Great news! And can’t wait to hear your podcast series.

  5. Rasmus Olsen

    December 15, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    Hey Damien

    I use to love your articles (still do).

    But will you ever write about songs you did?

    Best regards from Denmark

    • Rasmus Olsen

      December 15, 2020 at 5:57 pm

      *write about songs like you did years ago? 🙂

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Cascio Tracks

Producer Teddy Riley Comes Clean Regarding Fake Songs From Posthumous Michael Jackson Album

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Legendary producer Teddy Riley has spoken out against the controversial Michael Jackson album he worked on after the pop star’s death, claiming that he believes some of the tracks he was asked to remix for the project are fakes, but that he was “pushed” to say they were authentic.

“I just hope that the truth comes to light because it was never proven to me that it was Michael’s voice,” said Riley in a bombshell video published today by hard-hitting pop culture interviewer DJ Vlad for Vlad TV.

The songs in question, known as the Cascio tracks, were provided to Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson by the pop star’s longtime friend Eddie Cascio and his collaborative partner James Porte.

Cascio and Porte claim that Jackson recorded 12 songs in Cascio’s basement shortly before his death. Three of those songs – “Keep Your Head Up,” “Breaking News” and “Monster” – were included on the Michael album in December 2010.

Riley, who worked extensively with Jackson throughout his life, remixed “Breaking News” and “Monster” for the posthumous project.

Initially, Jackson’s family gave Riley their blessing to work on the project. Michael’s nephew, Taryll Jackson, even joined Riley in the studio.

But upon hearing the Cascio tracks, Taryll believed the vocals were sung by an impostor.

When the rest of the Jackson family heard them, they felt the same way, taking to social media to denounce the Cascio tracks as fakes.

Amidst all the controversy, Riley and Cascio appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s talkshow, where they both insisted the vocals were the real deal.

But when interviewer DJ Vlad asked Riley about it, the producer made the explosive claim that he was forced to say the vocals were authentic:

“I was influenced and pushed to say the things that were said.”

The producer went on to explain that he initially demanded proof regarding the authenticity of the vocals, but that no such proof was ever presented.

“They would not prove it to me,” says Riley.

Riley also says that Jackson’s nephew, Taryll, encouraged him to distance himself from the tracks, but that Riley felt too intimidated by those in control of the project to do so.

“I felt I was dealing with some high, powerful people. And I didn’t want no problems at all.”

Riley explains that his decision to continue working on the Cascio tracks ultimately cost him his friendship with Taryll.

“I was like, Taryll, I already got paid. What do you expect me to do? And he stopped speaking to me for a while. And I was like damn, I lost my friend over this.”

Riley said that to be involved in another Michael Jackson project in the future, he would need proof that the vocals were authentic, and for the Jackson family to be on board and involved.

“[Michael] is their family. This is their brother, their son, their uncle,” said Teddy.

“I will not move until I have their blessing. But this time I want a real blessing. I’m not talking about money. I want a real blessing from the family.”

Riley also took the opportunity to apologise to fellow producer Quincy Jones.

During the interview, DJ Vlad reminded Riley that back in 2010, Riley accused Jones of being too old to know the difference between the real Michael Jackson and a fake Michael Jackson.

“My apologies, my apologies,” said Riley to Jones in the video. “I always wanted to say that, because Quincy is someone I look up to… He’s a guy that I worship as my idol.”

Riley’s interview with Vlad TV comes just months after Sony Music and the Michael Jackson Estate abandoned the Cascio tracks.

As part of the settlement of a consumer fraud lawsuit filed against them over the Michael album, Jackson’s estate and Sony removed the three commercially-released Cascio tracks – “Breaking News,” “Monster” and “Keep Your Head Up” – from streaming platforms around the world.

The corporations have also re-pressed the physical CD of the Michael album without the Cascio tracks, and are now selling the amended version via the official Michael Jackson shop online.

For those of you who are interested, a podcast series called Faking Michael, detailing the findings of my 12-year investigation of the Cascio tracks, is currently in production. Subscribe via Apple PodcastsSpotify or YouTube to be notified when episodes are released.


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.
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Huge Win for Michael Jackson Fan as Supreme Court Rejects Sony’s Free Speech Defense in “Fake” Songs Lawsuit

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Two ‘get out of jail free’ cards, used by lawyers for Sony to avoid facing the music in a consumer fraud lawsuit, were ripped to shreds by the California Supreme Court on Thursday last week.

As part of their ruling, the court determined that the description on a posthumous Michael Jackson album cover was indeed commercial speech — not free speech, as lawyers for Sony and Jackson’s estate had argued — and that consumers have a case if false or misleading statements were made in the description.

The unanimous ruling sets an important precedent for the protection of California consumers in cases of alleged fraud moving forward.

This case

The controversy centers around an album titled Michael, released 18 months after Michael Jackson’s death by his estate and Sony Music Entertainment.

Prior to the album’s December 2010 release, members of Jackson’s family claimed that three songs on Michael  — “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster” — were fakes, with vocals sung by a Jackson impersonator.

But Sony and Jackson’s estate insisted the songs, which they acquired from the pop star’s friend Eddie Cascio and his collaborative partner James Porte, were the real deal.

The songs are known as the ‘Cascio tracks’.

In response to the controversy, Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said he’d conducted an “exhaustive investigation” during which a host of Jackson’s former producers had listened to the Cascio tracks and confirmed that the vocals were “definitely Michael”. 

But several of those producers dispute Weitzman’s version of events. You’ll hear their stories in an upcoming podcast series called Faking Michael.

Nevertheless, based on the purported findings of Weitzman’s investigation, Sony asserted their “complete confidence” in the authenticity of the Cascio tracks.

With the authenticity a matter of conjecture, fan Vera Serova relied on Sony and the Estate’s assurances — that the tracks on Michael were indeed sung by Jackson — when she decided to buy the album.

Further convincing Serova to hand over her money was the product description printed on the reverse side of the album cover. It stipulated that the vocals were “performed by Michael Jackson”.

But as evidence contradicting the official story emerged, Serova began to believe she’d been duped.

And so she hired a world-renowned forensic audiologist, who conducted a groundbreaking scientific examination of the vocals on the Cascio tracks. His opinion: the vocals weren’t Michael’s.

That forensic examination was the catalyst for what became an eight-year David versus Goliath legal battle, culminating in Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling.

Corporations can’t sell fake art as the real deal

“Relief has long been available in California to unwitting purchasers of imitation art who relied on false representations about authenticity” said the court in their 45-page opinion. 

“If Sony’s assertion that Jackson contributed lead vocals affects consumers’ experience of Michael, this illustrates how misrepresentations about an artist’s contributions can harm consumers in ways that matter to them.”

Executive director of the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice, Ted Mermin, who supported Serova in her battle with Sony, said:

“If we are buying an album that is marketed as being the songs of Michael Jackson, it had better have the songs of Michael Jackson.”

As well as setting an important legal precedent protecting California consumers, the court’s ruling inadvertently protects artists. 

Based on the ruling, there is no plausible excuse for falsely attributing fake works to famous artists. This puts songs on par with paintings and sculptures when it comes to outlawing art forgery.

The ruling is a huge win for creatives, whose reputation — and therefore livelihood and legacy — could be at stake if corporations were free to commercially exploit pastiches under their name.

“Misleading attributions on a record jacket might not only confuse consumers […] but also harm a performer’s reputation,” the court’s ruling states.

But what happens if a corporation sells a forgery without knowing it’s a forgery? This was also covered in the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Sony’s ‘lack of knowledge’ defense

Sony’s purported ‘lack of knowledge’ was raised by the corporation itself in a 2016 petition to be removed from Serova’s lawsuit.

At the time, lawyers for Sony and the Estate volunteered to argue their case based on the notion that the Cascio tracks were fakes, but that they ‘didn’t know’ at the time they released them back in 2010.

It should be made clear that this wasn’t an ‘admission’ that the Cascio tracks are indeed fake. Rather, it was their way of arguing that ‘even if’ the tracks are fake, they’ve done nothing wrong by selling them to fans as authentic Jackson material.

In a December 2016 trial court hearing, attorney Zia Modabber argued that to be liable for misleading consumers, Sony and the Estate had to know the songs were fake, adding that Cascio and Porte had “failed to disclose to Sony or the Estate that Michael Jackson did not provide the lead vocals.”

But the judge overseeing that hearing didn’t take kindly to Sony’s position, saying:

“I think what [Modabber] is saying here is. ‘We were duped… We didn’t know [Cascio and Porte] were recording stuff in a basement that wasn’t recorded by Michael. [Cascio and Porte] told us it was Michael. We believed it was Michael.’”

The judge accused Sony of throwing Cascio and Porte under the bus before ruling in Serova’s favour, ordering Sony to face the music. 

But Sony appealed, and in 2018 the appeals court took Sony’s side, dismissing the corporation from the lawsuit. 

Serova then challenged the decision to dismiss Sony, petitioning the California Supreme Court to intervene, which they did.

That, in a nutshell, is how we got to Thursday’s ruling — arguments for which were heard by the court on May 24, 2022.

During that May 24 hearing, Modabber again argued that Sony couldn’t be held accountable because they didn’t know the vocals were bogus when they released them in 2010.

But on Thursday, the court rejected Sony’s lack of knowledge defense once and for all, stating that if ignoring evidence was all a corporation had to do to get away with fraud, false advertising laws would be redundant.

“If ignorance around a product’s authenticity were a legitimate defense against false advertising claims, sellers would be incentivized to know as little as possible about their own products,” said the court in their ruling.

“Sellers making claims about their offerings surely do not avoid false advertising regulation […] by scrupulously declining to verify those claims or to acquire knowledge.”

Jeremy Bollinger, one of the attorneys representing Serova, told the LA Times that the court’s ruling was not only a victory for his client, but for all music and art consumers.

“The decision confirmed that it doesn’t matter whether the seller has personal knowledge of the veracity of its statements about its products,” Bollinger said. “If you’re going to sell something, you’re responsible for those representations.”

If they didn’t know in 2010, they knew by 2018

As we discussed earlier: back in 2010, before the Michael album was released, questions were raised regarding the authenticity of the Cascio tracks. 

At that time, several people told Estate attorney Howard Weitzman that they did not believe the vocalist was Michael. They alleged it was another singer, named Jason Malachi.

In response, Estate attorney Howard Weitzman claimed that he spoke to Malachi and confirmed that he wasn’t involved. 

But when fans heard the Cascio tracks, many identified Malachi’s voice — not Jackson’s — on the tracks.

Further validating the reaction of fans was Malachi’s longtime producer, Tony Kurtis. In a barrage of comments posted via YouTube, Kurtis stated that he knew “without a doubt” that Malachi was the vocalist.

Even the aforementioned audiologist noted in his forensic report that the dialect and vibrato of the Cascio vocalist were consistent with Malachi, but not with Jackson.

Then, in early 2018, Malachi hired a lawyer. 

That lawyer then contacted Vera Serova’s legal team to discuss Malachi’s involvement with the Cascio tracks.

Serova and her lawyers claim that Malachi’s lawyer said that his client wanted to help resolve Serova’s litigation with Sony — and to get paid for his involvement.

A meeting between Malachi’s lawyer, Serova’s lawyers and lawyers for Sony and the Estate was arranged.

But according to Serova’s lawyers, the day before the meeting was set to take place, Sony and the Estate cancelled it, and communications with Malachi’s lawyer came to an abrupt end.

For the four years that followed Malachi’s attempted intervention, Sony and the Estate continued to argue their ‘lack of knowledge’ defense, while also continuing to commercially exploit the Cascio tracks as authentic Jackson recordings.

Calls and emails to Malachi and his lawyer — offering them the right of reply — were not returned.

Why don’t Sony and the Estate sue Cascio and Porte for fraud?

In their 45-page ruling, the California Supreme Court supposed that if the Cascio tracks are indeed fake, Sony and the Estate would want to file a fraud action against Cascio and Porte for duping them, stating:

“Presumably, Sony would seek to invoke any warranties, or assert fraud or other claims, against Cascio and his associates if it believed they peddled fake recordings.”

But in this case, it’s the exact opposite.

In fact, Sony and the Estate have stood firmly behind Cascio and Porte since 2010, regardless of the overwhelming evidence and public outcry against them — something that no one, including Jackson’s family, fans and former collaborators can understand.

Songs removed, case closed

In a somewhat anticlimactic end to their eight-year legal battle, just days before the Supreme Court issued its ruling, Sony and the Estate reached a settlement agreement with Serova.

As part of the settlement, Sony and the Estate were forced to remove the Cascio tracks from digital retailers and streaming platforms around the world.

Based on Serova’s statements over the years, it was clear that no settlement could have been reached without this demand being met.

It should be noted that, according to Serova, she did not receive any money as part of her settlement.

As she has maintained from the beginning of her legal action, Serova’s main objective in filing this lawsuit was justice for Michael Jackson, his art and his fans. 

And while Sony hasn’t offered refunds — or an apology — to fans who feel they’ve been duped, the removal of the Cascio tracks from digital platforms worldwide has gone a long way to restoring the integrity of Jackson’s discography.

But despite the Supreme Court’s ruling — that the wording on a CD cover is subject to consumer protection laws — it appears Sony and the Estate have opted against recalling CD copies of Michael from music stores or other retailers around the world. 

This is surprising.

The case with Serova is settled only with Serova, meaning anyone else who purchased the album within the statute of limitations — or anyone who might buy the album in the future — would be able to sue Sony and the Estate just like Serova did.

The only difference is that a potential future plaintiff wouldn’t have to argue that the wording on the album cover was commercial speech, or contend with a ‘lack of knowledge’ defense from the corporations.

Now that the case is settled, will the truth regarding the Cascio tracks and the Michael album ever be told?

After selling the Cascio tracks as authentic Jackson recordings for almost 12 years — since December 2010 — Sony and the Estate’s settlement with Serova seems to have absolved Cascio and Porte of liability. At no point were the alleged forgers required to testify under oath, or prove the authenticity of their songs.

And while Sony and the Estate have stated that the recent removal of the Cascio tracks from digital platforms is the “simplest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all,” many of Jackson’s most dedicated fans continue to demand answers.

My forthcoming true crime podcast series Faking Michael will explore those answers, taking listeners behind the scenes to uncover the music industry scandal they were never meant to hear about.

Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to be notified when episodes become available.


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.
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Alleged Forgeries Removed From Michael Jackson’s Online Catalog After 12 Years of Protests and a Fraud Lawsuit

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Three songs alleged to have been falsely attributed to Michael Jackson were abandoned by the pop star’s estate and record company this week after 12 years of fan protests and a consumer fraud lawsuit.

The alleged forgeries – known as the ‘Cascio tracks’ – come from a collection of 12 songs which producers Eddie Cascio and James Porte claim Jackson secretly recorded in Cascio’s basement in the fall of 2007.

The 12 Cascio tracks were sold to Jackson’s estate a year after the pop star’s death, and three of them – “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster” – were officially released by Sony Music on the Michael album in December 2010.

But Jackson’s fans insist the songs are fakes, with vocals sung by an impostor, and they’ve been demanding the tracks be removed from Jackson’s catalog for the past 12 years.

This week, they got their wish, with the controversial songs being removed from streaming platforms around the world. Jackson’s estate also appear to have discontinued the original 10-track CD version of the Michael album, replacing it with a 7-track edition which can now be ordered from their official website.

But according to a joint statement issued by Jackson’s estate and Sony – who are currently co-defendants in a class action lawsuit which alleges that the Cascio tracks are fakes – their decision to abandon the tracks had nothing to do with their disputed authenticity:

“The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music decided to remove the tracks ‘Breaking News,’ ‘Monster’ and ‘Keep Your Head Up,’ from the 2010 ‘Michael’ album as the simplest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all,” reads the statement, adding that “nothing should be read into this action concerning the authenticity of the tracks – it is just time to move beyond the distraction surrounding them.”

But many fans aren’t accepting Sony and the Estate’s position, because the “conversation associated with these tracks” is founded entirely on their disputed authenticity. According to some fans, removing the songs while defending their authenticity is not way to move “beyond the distraction surrounding them.”

And despite the fact that the “conversation associated with these tracks” has persisted relentlessly for 12 years, Sony and the Estate continued to sell the tracks to unwitting consumers throughout that entire period, while reaping millions of dollars from what many believe are brazen forgeries.

Until now.

The Jackson family tried to warn them

Prior to the release of the Michael album in 2010, several members of the Jackson family tried to reason with the Estate, informing them that the vocals on the Cascio tracks were not Michael’s while urging them not to move forward with their release.

Michael’s siblings Randy, Jermaine and Latoya all claimed that the vocals on the tracks did not belong to their brother.

They were ignored.

Michael’s mother – Estate beneficiary and family matriarch, Katherine Jackson – raised her voice against the tracks.

She was also ignored.

Michael’s oldest brother, Jackie Jackson, also came out against the Cascio tracks, revealing that both he and Estate co-executor John McClain had insisted for many weeks that the alleged forgeries should be removed from the album.

Their concerns were “not taken seriously.”

Michael’s nephews Taryll, TJ and Taj from the group 3T also spoke out, taking to social media to dispute the authenticity of the songs and raise awareness regarding some of what went on behind the scenes. 

Once again, their concerns were ignored.

In a statement issued on the 5th of November 2010, Sony asserted their “complete confidence” in the authenticity of the tracks. It was even reported that two independent forensic musicologists had verified that the vocals were Jackson’s.

Fans reject Breaking News

On the 8th of November 2010, five weeks before the Michael album was officially released, Sony unveiled one of the Cascio tracks – “Breaking News” – in a world premiere on Michael Jackson’s website.

When fans heard the track, they revolted. 

Many rejected the notion that Michael was the vocalist while pointing the finger at another singer named Jason Malachi.

But as they’d done with the Jackson family, Sony and the Estate ignored the opinions of fans.

Instead of reconsidering their plan to release the Cascio tracks, the Estate opted to gaslight fans in a statement, claiming that they’d investigated the authenticity of the vocals and believed “without reservation” that they were indeed Michael’s.

The following month the Estate and Sony took things a step further, stipulating in no uncertain terms that the vocals were “performed by Michael Jackson” on the back cover of the Michael album – released in the U.S. on the 14th of December 2010. 

ABOVE: RESERVE SIDE OF MICHAEL ALBUM COVER

They also arranged for Eddie Cascio to defend the authenticity of his songs on the Oprah Winfrey show. The Jackson family, however, were not invited to tell their side of the story.

The lawsuit

In June 2014, Michael Jackson fan Vera Serova filed a class action consumer fraud lawsuit against Jackson’s estate, Sony, Eddie Cascio, James Porte and their production company.

In her lawsuit, Serova alleges that Cascio and Porte are the masterminds of an “elaborate artistic fraud” in which they forged a collection of fake songs, and that Sony and the Estate misled her and others by attributing those forgeries to Michael Jackson on the Michael album.

As part of her lawsuit, Serova demanded the removal of the Cascio tracks from Jackson’s discography – a demand which now seems to have been met.

But despite the Cascio tracks having now been removed, Serova’s lawsuit remains ongoing.

It has been reported by the media this past week that Sony and the Estate won this case in 2018. 

This is simply not true.

In fact, Serova actually won the initial ruling on Sony and the Estate’s involvement in this case back in 2016. At that time, Sony and the Estate had tried to shirk responsibility, but were ordered to face the music by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

But Sony and the Estate felt they’d done nothing wrong and appealed that ruling – an appeal on which they prevailed in 2018.

In turn, Serova fought back, petitioning the California Supreme Court for review.

And based on the Supreme Court’s view that the appeal court’s ruling was legally “problematic,” Serova won her bid for review.

Oral arguments in that review were heard by the state Supreme Court the 24th of May 2022. 

A ruling has not yet been made, but is expected soon.

Sony and the Estate will need to prevail to be officially removed from litigation once and for all. If they don’t prevail, they’ll remain defendants in this case.

As of today (July 7), neither party has definitively prevailed and there is no judgment.

As mentioned, the original producers of the Cascio tracks – Eddie Cascio and James Porte – have also been sued as part of Serova’s lawsuit. They are sued with fraud, and that aspect of the lawsuit also remains ongoing.

You can hear my opinion on the removal of the Cascio tracks and much more below, in a roundtable discussion hosted by Michael Jackson podcast The MJCast:

I am also working on a podcast series called Faking Michael detailing the ins and outs of the Cascio tracks and the Michael album. Subscribe via podcast apps to be alert when episodes are released in the future.


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.
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Cascio Tracks5 months ago

Alleged Forgeries Removed From Michael Jackson’s Online Catalog After 12 Years of Protests and a Fraud Lawsuit

Three songs alleged to have been falsely attributed to Michael Jackson were abandoned by the pop star’s estate and record...

Cascio Tracks7 months ago

Supreme Court Judge Grills Sony Lawyer Over ‘Contradictory’ Arguments in Alleged Michael Jackson Fraud

A lawyer defending Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson in a consumer fraud lawsuit has today argued that...

Cascio Tracks7 months ago

Court Date Set in Supreme Court Battle Over Legal Right to Sell Alleged Michael Jackson Forgeries

Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson will again fight for their right to sell alleged forgeries as authentic...

Creative Process1 year ago

Invincible, ‘Xscape’ and Michael Jackson’s Quest for Greatness

Below is a chapter from my book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault, revised for this article. The full book...

Creative Process1 year ago

‘Blue Gangsta’ and Michael Jackson’s Fascination with America’s 20th Century Underbelly

Below is a chapter from my book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault, revised for this article. The full book...

Creative Process1 year ago

Michael Jackson Meets America in Invincible Album Outtake ‘A Place With No Name’

Below is a chapter from my book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault, revised for this article. The full book...

Cascio Tracks2 years ago

First Amendment Coalition to Support Sony and the Jackson Estate in Fake Songs Lawsuit

There has been yet another twist in the class action lawsuit filed by Californian consumer Vera Serova against Sony Music...

Cascio Tracks2 years ago

Californian Government Joins Fraud Lawsuit Against Sony Music and Jackson Estate

The California state government has officially joined a class action lawsuit against Michael Jackson’s estate and record company. In a...

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