In a press release issued yesterday, the state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, accuses Sony of “shirking responsibility” for making “false and misleading claims” about a posthumously released Michael Jackson album, and then declaring ignorance of their misrepresentation.
The Attorney General also filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court, urging them to intervene in the case of Serova vs Sony Music Entertainment, et al., for fear that “broad, destabilising consequences for well-established false advertising principles,” could be felt if it did not take action and rectify a problematic Appeals Court decision in the case.
The lawsuit at the centre of the amicus brief was filed almost 7 years ago. The suit alleges that Sony Music and the Jackson Estate misled consumers when they commercially released the Michael album, comprising 10 tracks, in December 2010.
The plaintiff in the case, Vera Serova, insists that three of the 10 tracks on Michael are part of an elaborate artistic fraud masterminded by co-defendants Eddie Cascio and James Porte, who sold the tracks to Jackson’s Estate for millions of dollars after the superstar’s death.
Serova alleges that those three tracks, known as the Cascio tracks, are fakes sung by an impostor. And she’s not alone.
Months before the album was released, members of the Jackson family warned Sony and the Estate regarding the Cascio tracks, insisting that they were fakes and should not be released. One of the Estate’s co-executors, John McClain, agreed with the Jackson family.
In response, Sony issued a press release stating that they had “complete confidence in the results of their extensive research” that the vocals were authentic. The company then released the album, including three Cascio tracks, against the family’s wishes.
Sony even went as far as to explicitly inscribe on the album cover that the vocals on all the album’s tracks were “performed by Michael Jackson.”
But despite Sony’s repeated assurances that the vocals were legit, when Jackson’s fans got their hands on the album and heard the Cascio tracks for themselves, a huge controversy ensued. Thousands upon thousands of fans around the world instantly rejected them as fakes.
Ironically, this very controversy – which Sony itself created by releasing the Cascio tracks – is one of the many points the company has since tried to raise as a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Sony says that because thousands of people were questioning the authenticity of the vocals, the company’s claim that Jackson sang them was not commercial in nature, but merely their non-commercial contribution to the ongoing authenticity debate.
But the Attorney General argues that Sony’s logic is absurd. The fact that there were questions over the vocals, the AG says, only increased Sony’s need be sure that the songs were indeed authentic if they intended on claiming they were:
“Questions about the authenticity of songs allegedly recorded by Michael Jackson shortly before his death naturally led to significant interest and debate among fans, members of the media, and the public more generally. That level of interest made it all the more important for Sony to provide accurate information about the songs to consumers.”
The AG added: “It would seriously frustrate the State’s interest in combating false or misleading advertising to immunise a seller from liability merely because its claims bear some relation to a matter of public interest or a public figure.”
Moreover, the Attorney General completely rejects Sony’s claims that their speech wasn’t commercial in nature.
Because the album cover explicitly stated that the songs were “performed by Michael Jackson,” Sony was bound to that statement as being the truth, and could be held liable under consumer protection laws if it were proven otherwise.
“A seller’s description of a product on a label or in an advertisement is a classic form of commercial speech. Thus, assuming Serova’s allegations are true, application of California’s false advertising statutes fully comports with the First Amendment.”
In the press release issued yesterday to alert the media of the California state government’s support of Serova’s lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra 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.”
Sometime in mid-February the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office is due to join the California Attorney General and the nine other consumer protection groups already supporting Serova’s case. No amicus brief has been filed in support of Sony or the Jackson Estate.
A date for the oral hearing of these briefs is yet to be set.
Damien Shields is the author of Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault – a book examining the King of Pop’s creative process on a collection of previously-unreleased songs which were ultimately released years after his death. The book is available in physical and digital formats via Amazon and iBooks.
The group’s The Jacksons (1976), Goin’ Places (1977), and Destiny (1978) will arrive digitally on February 12th with the addition of bonus tracks. A double-LP edition of The Jacksons Live! (1981, recorded on the Triumph tour) will come out on March 25th.
The Jacksons was the group’s first album for Epic after splitting with Motown, and it was their first without Jermaine, who was married to Motown founder Berry Gordy’s daughter Hazel and opted to stay on that label. His younger brother Randy then stepped into the mix. Despite the switch, the album was a hit, later certified gold, thanks to the hits “Enjoy Yourself” and “Show Me the Way You Go.” One of the album’s deep cuts, “Blue Away,” was Michael Jackson’s first-ever solo songwriting credit. The expanded edition of the album adds 7-inch and 12-inch mixes of the big hits, as well as a Dimitri From Paris re-edit of “Living Together.”
Goin’ Places didn’t fare as well on the charts, although the title track reached the Top 10 on the R&B chart. The new edition features the 7-inch mix of that track, as well as “Find Me a Girl” and “Even Though You’re Gone.” Destiny, released a year later, was a bigger hit, later certified platinum. This was thanks to the disco hits “Blame It on the Boogie” and “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” which presaged Michael Jackson’s disco reinvention a year later on his Off the Wall solo album. The expanded edition of Destiny contains more singles mixes of the hits, as well as DJ and remixer John Luongo’s disco mixes of the big hits.
The Jacksons Bonus Tracks
“Enjoy Yourself” (7-inch Extended Version)
“Enjoy Yourself” (12-inch Version)
“Show You the Way to Go” (7-inch Version)
“Living Together” (Dimitri From Paris Disco Re-Edit)
Goin’ Places Bonus Tracks
“Goin’ Places” (7-inch Version)
“Find Me a Girl” (7-inch Version)
“Even Though You’re Gone” (7-inch Version)
Destiny Bonus Tracks
“Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground” (7-inch Version)
“Destiny” (7-inch Version)
“Blame It On the Boogie” (12-inch Version John Luongo Disco Mix)
“Shake Your Body (Down To the Ground)” (12-inch Version John Luongo Disco Mix)
“That’s What You Get (For Being Polite) (12-inch Version)
“That’s What You Get (For Being Polite)” (DJ Reverend P Edit)
The Dee Dee Jackson Foundation will be receiving one of Mothers In Crisis’ HOPEE (Helping Others Practice Enduring Empowerment) awards during April National Month of Hope this year. Rosalind Tompkins will interview TJ Jackson live on her Think Hope Podcast on February 9, 2021 at 8:00PM EST. In addition to discussing the Dee Dee Jackson Foundation’s mission and vision going forward, they will talk about how he’s coping now and about his new solo music career.
On January 8th, three songs were released by Jacksons!
In less than a year TJ Jackson has released his first two debut EPs Obsession and Damaged and a total of five official music videos that has garnered over 1 million views on YouTube. In recent months TJ has done national interviews on radio (SIRIUS XM), TV (WGN), press (BET.com) as well as international outlets (BBC Radio Diario Nuevo). Although in person international promotional plans have been delayed due to Covid-19, TJ continues to accumulate a strong and loyal fan base for his solo career that is passionate and excited for his next move. With his next two years of releases already tentatively planned, TJ Jackson is on a mission to make his own mark within the accomplished Jackson family legacy by making music that “will last well beyond today.”
On 30 October 2020 Paris Jackson released her solo debut single and music video “Let Down”, a song that started in her bedroom with just a guitar and is about coping with the heartache after her breakup from Gabriel Glenn. Paris turned her pain into art and describes her ethereal acoustic sound as alternative folk. Now, Paris Jackson's solo debut album wilted with 11 songs is released (13 November 2020) and available on all digital music platforms worldwide.
Release: 13 November 2020
© 2020 Dragonflower Enterprises, LLC / Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
01. Colide 2:54
02. Undone 4:41
03. Repair 4:16
04. Cosmic 4:10
05. Dead Sea 4:21
06. Let Down 4:16
07. Eyelids 3:25
08. Scorpio Rising 4:07
09. Freight Train 3:11
10. Wilted 4:26
11. Another Spring 4:50
Taryll Jackson dropped his debut music video with an acoustic version of his latest single "Make It Right", as well as a special video version featuring his sons Bryce and Adren!
Paris Jackson is following in her famous father's footsteps. She released her first solo single and music video, "Let Down," from her upcoming debut album Wilted that will be out November 13th. Paris describes her acoustic sound as alternative folk. "Let Down," a song that she wrote in her bedroom with only her guitar, tells the story of a breakup that was inspired by her own personal life. Paris formed The Soundflowers with musician boyfriend Gabriel Glenn in 2018. They split in August this year.