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BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules to Hear Case of Michael Jackson Fan Versus Sony in Fake Songs Lawsuit

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The California Supreme Court has today ruled that it will hear the case of Vera Serova versus Sony Music and The Estate of Michael Jackson regarding the advertisement and commercial distribution of three allegedly-forged songs attributed to the late pop superstar on the 2010 Michael album.

The ruling is a huge step towards justice for plaintiff Serova as she attempts to hold Sony Music and the Jackson Estate accountable for their decision to falsely advertise and sell a fraudulent product to Michael Jackson fans around the world.

Last month, on November 7, 2018, Serova and her legal team completed the process of petitioning the Supreme Court of California to intervene as a last gasp attempt to force Sony and the Jackson Estate to face the music. The corporations were controversially dismissed from the case in August this year, when the Court of Appeal ruled that they should be able to sell forgeries as the real deal—as long as they didn’t know the songs were fake.

Today, the seven Justices of the Court who reviewed Serova’s petition ruled that the Supreme Court should hear the case. The Justices felt the Court of Appeal’s ruling that corporations should be allowed to advertise and sell fake art as authentic was problematic in the eyes of the law.

Serova contends that the three songs at the centre of her lawsuit (“Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster”) were released by Sony and the Jackson Estate with fake vocals—sung not by the King of Pop, but by a soundalike.

The three allegedly-fake songs were sold to Sony and the Jackson Estate in mid-2010 by music producers and longtime Jackson friends Eddie Cascio and James Porte 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.

Additional litigation remains pending against Cascio and Porte, who have been sued by Serova for fraud. The case against Cascio and Porte has been on hold for almost two years now. The delay comes as a result of Sony and the Jackson Estate’s continued appeals. But the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case could result in new activity in the fraud component of the case, including the possibility of new defendants being added.

The obvious candidate for inclusion in the fraud component of the lawsuit would be the alleged singer of the songs, Jason Malachi. The Jackson family alerted Sony and the Estate to the fact that they believed Malachi was the singer of the songs in question way back in October 2010—two months before the Michael album was released. Upon the album’s release, Malachi’s longtime producer and vocal coach, Tony Kurtis, went public with his insistence that Malachi was the singer of the songs. At that time, countless Jackson fans around the world also identified Malachi as the singer, recognising his voice—not Jackson’s—on the songs in question.

When confronted by Jackson fans online about having sung the vocals on the three allegedly-fake songs on the Michael album, YouTube user EvinVerma posted:

“Guys, don’t hate on Jason. He’s an individual with his own life to live. If he did sing on those tracks on Michael, which is obvious, then good for him to contribute to continue what the King wasn’t able to finish. Don’t blame Jason, blame Sony Music Entertainment.”

Malachi’s response:

“Thank you!!!”

Malachi response to EvinVerma

Participating in the recording of vocals that Michael Jackson did not record and passing them off as work by Jackson constitutes art forgery, which is a felony in the Unites States. If pursued by the authorities, such a crime carries the potential penalty of prison time. At this point, however, Serova’s civil litigation is the only course of action being taken.

UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, plaintiff  Vera Serova made a blockbuster revelation via Twitter. Serova was asked by a fellow Twitter user whether she had seen Malachi’s response to the above-mentioned YouTube comment.

Serova, using the Twitter handle @MorinenMJ, responded by not only confirming she had seen it, but by revealing that she and her legal team have ‘direct evidence of his involvement’ based on correspondence with Malachi’s lawyer!

What this means for the case remains to be seen, but the fact that Serova’s lawyer and Malachi’s lawyer have been in contact, and that such contact resulted in ‘direct evidence of his involvement’ with the songs, is a major development.

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.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. MJs Butterfly

    December 14, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Let’s say Serova wins the case. Who gets any money awarded? Who goes to jail? We have seen Sony squirm out of many lawsuits in the past. Will Jason be the only one? Will watch this case closely.

    • Damien

      December 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

      If this goes to trial and Vera wins, the Californian consumers who bought the album will be entitled to a refund. Also, I believe Sony and the Estate would pay her legal costs. I say Sony and the Estate and not Angelikson because Angelikson’s legal costs appear to be covered by Sony. It may also be decided to award Vera a sum of money to set a precedent that this type of fraudulent activity won’t be tolerated. Impossible to know about that at this point though. No one will go to jail based on the civil lawsuit. That would require the intervention of law enforcement. If it is proven that art forgery has taken place, I’m not sure what the procedure is. I’m not sure whether that compels authorities to intervene. Or whether the con artists will get away with it. Prison sentences, if any were applicable, would depend on level of involvement. But I can’t see anyone going to jail. Though, in my opinion, Eddie Cascio and James Porte deserve to.

  2. Wera

    December 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    It’s disgusting, what Sony done for Michael Jackson. I hate this company

  3. Cam

    October 25, 2019 at 3:22 am

    I know this comment is a little bit short of being 1 year late, but would you also want to look in the other cascio tracks which have been leaked online, and all sound like the same singer from the 3 songs on the Michael album?

  4. Dean

    March 4, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Hey,
    I’ve just discovered this blog and I’ve been looking at these fake songs since 2010, so seeing all of this is very interesting.

    I was wondering what happened to the Podcast? Is it coming?

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

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A lawyer defending Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson in a consumer fraud lawsuit has today argued that the billion-dollar corporations should be able to sell forgeries to unwitting consumers – without being held liable for doing so.

During the California Supreme Court hearing, which was streamed live around the world, Sony attorney Zia Modabber was pulled up for presenting contradictory arguments when attempting to justify the record company’s false attribution of three songs to Jackson on the 2010 Michael album.

The hearing centred around a class action lawsuit filed by Californian consumer Vera Serova – a Michael Jackson fan who purchased the Michael album under the premise that it was a collection of unreleased songs performed by the King of Pop.

In her lawsuit, Serova contends that three of the songs on Michael – “Breaking News,” “Monster” and “Keep Your Head Up” – are forgeries, and that Jackson’s estate and Sony misled her and millions of consumers around the world by falsely representing those forgeries as authentic Jackson material.

Today’s Supreme Court hearing focused specifically on Sony and the Estate’s culpability in the matter.

The corporations argue that the First Amendment (free speech) gives them the constitutional right to lie to consumers without remedy, and that they should be removed from the lawsuit because of this.

In fact, Sony and the Estate have been petitioning to be removed from this case for 6 years, alleging that plaintiff Serova strategically filed her lawsuit to prevent the record company from exercising their First Amendment rights by participating in the public dialogue regarding the authenticity of the songs.

The dialogue in question is the wording on the reverse side of the album cover, which stipulates that the vocals on the album were “performed by Michael Jackson” (see below).

ABOVE: REVERSE SIDE OF MICHAEL ALBUM COVER

In a 2016 hearing regarding this matter, attorney Zia Modabber argued on behalf of Sony and the Estate that if anyone were to be held liable for the fraud it should be the original producers of the songs – Eddie Cascio and James Porte – because they provided them under the false pretence that they were authentic.

Today, in front of seven Supreme Court Justices, Mr. Modabber made the same argument on behalf of Sony and the Estate.

In what was a rollercoaster hearing, Modabber told the court that Sony and the Estate were “100%” certain that the vocals on the songs in question were authentic based on an investigation conducted by former Estate attorney Howard Weitzman in November 2010.

A few minutes later, in a complete about-face, Modabber claimed that neither Sony nor the Estate were in a position to know who sang the vocals – a backflip which Justice Groban took issue with:

“How can it be both? Why is Sony saying with 100% certainty that Michael is the singer if you weren’t certain? Which is essentially what I hear you saying now.”

Mr. Modabber also made a number of arguments throughout his 30-minute presentation which seemed only to benefit plaintiff Serova’s side.

At one point, Modabber explained the identity of the artist is what gives art its meaning and value. In other words, if Michael Jackson wasn’t singing on the songs in question, they’d be irrelevant and worthless:

“The identity of the artist is part and parcel of the art. It imparts meaning to the art.”

The attorney, on behalf of Sony and the Estate, went on to give an example:

“There’s a song that Michael wrote called ‘Leave Me Alone‘, and it’s about being persecuted by the press. When Michael Jackson sings that song – because it’s Michael Jackson singing it – it gives a certain meaning to that song. If I sang that song – nobody cares about me – it doesn’t have the same meaning as if Michael Jackson sings that song. And that’s why authors and the source of the art are part of – and intimately connected to – the art itself… It undeniably adds to the meaning of the art.”

Without Michael Jackson’s name on the songs in question, they couldn’t commercially exploit them.

Therefore, according to Sony’s logic, the company had no choice other than to falsely attribute the authorship to Jackson in order to give them meaning and value in the eyes of consumers.

In what can only be described and an own goal, Modabber continued by asserting that the consumers of art want to know who the artist is, and that he cannot think of a scenario in which the identity of the artist doesn’t matter:

“Imagine art, out in the world, with no attribution of authorship. Imagine you just didn’t know who it came from or what the source was. It’s not the same. There is a character and a quality and an impact and a curiosity by those who consume the art about where it came from and what the source was. It adds meaning to it. We want to know who it is. We want to know where it came from. We want to know what inspired it. And part of that is the identity of the artist. And so I can’t think of a situation where the identity of the artist doesn’t matter.”

More to come when the California Supreme Court hands down their ruling on this matter.

For those of you who are interested, a podcast series detailing my investigation of this case, called Faking Michael, is currently in production. Subscribe to Faking Michael on 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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Court Date Set in Supreme Court Battle Over Legal Right to Sell Alleged Michael Jackson Forgeries

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Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson will again fight for their right to sell alleged forgeries as authentic Jackson songs in an oral argument set to be heard by the Supreme Court of California on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

The hearing centres around a class action lawsuit filed by Californian consumer Vera Serova, who purchased the Michael album – released by Sony and Jackson’s estate in 2010 – under the premise that it was a collection of unreleased songs recorded by pop star Michael Jackson.

In her lawsuit, Serova alleges that three of the songs on Michael are forgeries – sung by an impostor vocalist – and that she, along with millions of fans around the world, were misled when the pop star’s estate and record company falsely represented the tracks as authentic Jackson material in the album’s product labelling and advertising.

The three songs in question – “Breaking News,” “Monster” and “Keep Your Head Up” – were produced by Jackson associates Eddie Cascio and James Porte and are known as the ‘Cascio tracks’.

Cascio, Porte and their production company are also included in the lawsuit – sued by Serova for fraud. The May 24 hearing will not deal with their culpability.

The lawsuit has been in the California court system for almost eight years, since June 2014. For six of those years, Sony and the Estate have argued that it is their constitutional right to sell forgeries under the First Amendment – the right to free speech – and they should therefore not be liable in this case.

In a 2016 hearing, Sony lawyer Zia Modabber argued that if anyone were to be held liable, it should be Cascio and Porte, because they sold the songs to Sony and the Estate under the premise that they were authentic.

After several rulings and subsequent appeals from both sides in the lower courts, the Supreme Court of California will finally decide whether Sony and the Estate should face the music in this case.

If Sony and the Estate can successfully convince the Supreme Court that they should indeed be able to sell forgeries as authentic Jackson material, they will be removed from the case – once and for all.

And if plaintiff Serova prevails, the corporations may be forced to decide between settling the case – which would involve dissociating Jackson from the songs and removing them from record stores and streaming platforms around the world – or defending their actions at trial.

Serova’s position is supported by several consumer advocacy groups and government branches, including the California Attorney General.

In a press release issued on January 29, 2021, the AG said:

“Products must deliver on their claims. If someone buys an album from a recording artist, they should expect that the songs on the album were made by that artist unless noted otherwise… We must hold companies accountable to stand by their products. Companies have a First Amendment right to communicate, but their claims must be informed and accurate.”

Sony is supported by the First Amendment Coalition.

Counsel for both sides will present their oral arguments remotely via video link, while the public will be able to stream the hearing live via the judicial branch website.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Sony and the Estate’s liability, the fraud component of Serova’s lawsuit against Cascio, Porte and their production company will move forward.

At that time, Serova will finally be able to add the alleged singer of the forgeries, Jason Cupeta, as a defendant to her lawsuit. 

Cupeta is Deputy Sheriff at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office who goes by the artistic pseudonym Jason Malachi.

Serova first informed the court of her intention to add Cupeta in a March 2018 filing, but has been unable to complete this process due to the case being stayed pending the outcome of the oral arguments set to be heard by the Supreme Court on May 24.

A podcast series detailing my investigation of this case, called Faking Michael, is currently in production. Subscribe to Faking Michael on 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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First Amendment Coalition to Support Sony and the Jackson Estate in Fake Songs Lawsuit

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There has been yet another twist in the class action lawsuit filed by Californian consumer Vera Serova against Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson regarding three allegedly fake songs commercially released on the 2010 Michael album.

In documents filed with the California Supreme Court yesterday, an organisation called The First Amendment Coalition has requested permission to file an amicus brief in support of Sony and the Estate’s purported constitutional right to sell fake songs as authentic Michael Jackson material.

FAC’s request comes after four separate amici were filed in support of plaintiff Serova by several consumer protection groups along with the California Attorney General’s Office.

All previously filed briefs support Serova’s assertion that this is a straightforward case of false advertising, and that billion-dollar corporations should not be able to commercially label fake art as authentic.

They also assert that by filing an anti-SLAPP motion against Serova, Sony and the Estate misappropriated a statute which is supposed to protect the general public against the limitless resources of wealthy corporations, and to prevent those corporations from intimidating the public into abandoning legal action against them.

Nine consumer protection organisations stated in a joint filing that Sony and the Estate have misused the anti-SLAPP statute to achieve the exact opposite of its intended purpose.

But according to documents filed yesterday, The First Amendment Coalition believes that if the Supreme Court rules in plaintiff Serova’s favour, and if a precedent is set that Sony and the Estate cannot sell fake songs as authentic Jackson material, it could have “significant implications for many different First Amendment contexts beyond the particular circumstances of this case.”

In this case, Sony asserts that they should not be held accountable for the statements made on the Michael album cover and in their television commercial, because those statements were “noncommercial” in nature. Rather, they argue, those statements are merely their contribution to the ongoing public debate about whether the vocals on three of the songs were authentic or fake, and that this makes it free speech under the First Amendment.

FAC has indicated that they will stand with Sony on this matter.

According to the mission statement published on their website, FAC is a nonprofit public interest organisation dedicated to “advancing free speech” and “public participation in civic affairs.”

By definition, public participation in civic affairs is a process in which members of society take collective action to address issues of public concern.

This begs the question: Is the definition of FAC’s mission more appropriately applied to a multi-billion dollar corporation’s purported right to claim that a commercial product is legit, when in fact it is fake? Or to a member of the public who seeks to take collective action to address the issue of that multi-billion dollar corporation falsely advertising that same product to millions of unwitting consumers?

Despite Sony and the Estate’s best efforts to stop her, the plaintiff in this case (Miss Serova) is a member of society who is attempting to take collective action (by filing a class action lawsuit) to address an issue of public concern (that a corporation may be defrauding consumers).

Moreover, FAC’s mission statement also claims to advocate for a “more open and accountable government” and “the people’s right to know”.

It should be noted that the Californian government is in fact advocating for openness and accountability and for the public’s right to know in this case – on behalf of the plaintiff, against the billion-dollar corporation that has conceded in its legal arguments to have ripped her off.

For the purposes of this proceeding, defendants Sony and the Estate have stipulated that the songs in question are indeed fake. And while their exact arguments aren’t due to be filed with the court until March 10, 2021, in the context of the defendants’ concessions, FAC could, in theory, be perceived to be advocating in favour of fraudulent representation of forged art, rather than for openness and accountability and the people’s right to know.

In a press release issued on January 29, 2021, the California Attorney General said:

“Products must deliver on their claims. If someone buys an album from a recording artist, they should expect that the songs on the album were made by that artist unless noted otherwise… We must hold companies accountable to stand by their products. Companies have a First Amendment right to communicate, but their claims must be informed and accurate.”

More to come when FAC files their amicus brief.

A podcast series called Faking Michael is in the works, detailing a decade-long investigation of this case. You can subscribe to Faking Michael 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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