Artists, Record Labels

A California judge has dismissed part of Michael Jackson’s lawsuit against Universal Music in which he claimed he was owed royalties for songs he recorded before 1979 (see Law Updates, June 2003). In a January 1980 settlement with Motown, Jackson gave up rights to songs released before 1979, giving the record label exclusive rights to the name the Jackson 5, the group of Jackson-family members that first put the star on the map. Jackson contends he should be paid for any songs he recorded alone or with his brothers that were re-released after the 1980 agreement. Jackson is seeking payment of royalties he claimed are owed and recission of the 1980 agreement. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias found on Friday that Universal had not breached any fiduciary duty, since Jackson gave up the rights to the pre-1980 tunes.