The songs in question are “Breaking News,” “Monster” and “Keep Your Head Up,” which were released on “Michael,” the first album from a splashy ten-album 2010 deal between Jackson’s estate and Epic Records to complete and issue dozens of previously unreleased recordings by the singer. While the deal — which estimates at the time claimed could bring $250 million to the estate — called for the 10 albums to be released over the next seven years, just two have emerged, “Michael” and 2014’s “Xscape.”
Sony and the Jackson estate sought to throw the lawsuit based on California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which protects speech on matters of public interest. The trial court judge denied the motion, prompting Sony and the estate to appeal. The argument was heard Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal. Whether or not the vocals are indeed Jackson’s was not the purpose of Tuesday’s hearing, but rather whether the album’s liner notes are protected by the First Amendment.
“When you review the motion on appeal, you assume that everything in the complaint is true,” said Bryan Freedman, who represents other defendants in the case. “Any admission that was made was for purposes of that argument only.” A ruling on the anti-SLAPP motion is due within the next 90 days.
Among other issues, the 2014 lawsuit raises the question of whether people who purchased the album or songs “are entitled to a refund, in whole or in part, of the purchase price of the album ‘Michael’ and/or the songs. According to sources close to the situation, individuals who attended Tuesday’s court hearing seized upon a statement by an attorney for Jackson’s estate in which he said something to the effect of “even if the vocals weren’t Jackson’s” as proof that they were indeed faked. The sources insist that the attorney was speaking speculatively.
The notes read in part, “This album contains 9 previously unreleased vocal tracks performed by Michael Jackson. These tracks were recently completed using music from the original vocal tracks and music created by the credited producers.”
The wording of that statement is striking in light of Modabber’s comment, which says Jackson sang “on” the songs, which could be interpreted to mean that his vocals were enhanced or even completed by another singer. Fans have long claimed that an American singer named Jason Malachi actually sang the three songs in question, and he purportedly admitted as much in a 2011 Facebook post, according to TMZ, although his manager later denied it, claiming the post was faked.
This article was writing by: Variety